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Discovered, and Patented April 14th, 1857. 

david h. Kennedy, 


Illustrated with Twenty-five Wood Engravings and a Portrait of the Author. 

Efylxti fEtfftton, fottf) antittums. 





Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by 


the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the 
Southern District of New York. 



On the 4th day of January, A. D. 1854. 

On the 20th day of February, A. D. 1854. 


On the 27th day of April, A. D. 1854. 

On the 14th day of April, A. D. 1857. 





These directions, when filled up, are not to be left 
exposed to the examination of such as may desire to- 
possess themselves of their secrets. But should, for the 
benefit of the Patentee as well as the purchaser, be 
strictly kept from the public eye. 



Preface H 



Returns of the Census of A. D. 1852, showing 
the condition of the Tanning interest 13 


The different kinds of Skins suitable for Tan- 
ning — Buenos Ayres hides — Brazilian hides 
— Cow-hides — American Ox-hides — Spanish 
or South American dry hides — Calcutta 
or Nagore hides — Calf-skins — Horse-hides — 
Goat-skins — Sheep-skins — Deer-skins — and 
the Mode of Salting hides 37 




Structure and Composition of the Skin — Fibrine 
— Gelatine — Albumen — Animal Matter — 
Tannic Acid uniting with Gelatine and 
forming Leather 59 


Soaking. Softening, and Washing Hides — An 
Illustration, with a Description of the Hide- 
mill and Washing-machine 69 

Composition No. 1. 

For removing Hair, Wool, Grease, Mucus, and 
other impurities from the Skins — An Illus- 
tration, with a full description of the Beam- 
house 81 


Reducing the Skins to their Original Thick- 
ness 91 




The Properties of the Ingredients used in the 
Composition for Tanning — Their effects upon 
the Hides — The Places of Production — The 
New York Prices 95 


Composition No. 2. 

For Tanning — The proper proportions of In- 
gredients, with full and clear Directions for 
using them — A Description of the Bark- 
ometer 109 



Tanning one hundred common-sized Calf-skins, 121 



Tanning thirty Ox-hides for the Manufacture 
of Patent Leather — The Handling-house, 
with Notes — Splitting-machine 133 




Tanning fifty sides of Sole-leather 149 


Currying and Finishing Leather — Shaving- 
Harness Leather — Blacked Bridle — Russet 
Bridle — Horse Leather — Wax Leather — 
Grained Leather — Patent Leather 167 

The Texture and Quality of Leather 185 


Remarks on Tanning — Illustration of Clinton 
Tannery, with Notes 195 


The Mechanics' True Position. 

A Word of Cheer to the Hearty Tanner 217 




The Tanners' Cheer. 

Illustrated by a Party of Tanners Singing the 
words to the tune of the Marseillaise Hymn, 243 


Copy of Patent granted, in the United States, 
on the 14th day of April, 1857 249 

Copy of Specification of Patent 253 


The following directions have been 
prepared expressly for information as to 
the practical application of scientific 
principles which characterize the pro- 
gress of the improvement, and are 
offered to that portion of the public 
which is interested in the leather and 
tanning business. 

Like every other art, that of tanning 
has lately made great progress towards 
perfection. Ingenious and practical men 
have devoted their energies to actual 
experiments, and chemical agencies have 
been employed with varied success, 


until, at length, the desideratum seems 
to have been attained, which affords a 
new and complete substitute for -the 
manufacturing of all kinds of leather. 
This must soon give it a world-wide 
celebrity, and entitle it to the attention 
of all concerned in the leather business. 
The Patentee, Mr. K., takes great pleas- 
ure in giving a comprehensive descrip- 
tion of the different preparations for 
using the improvement ; and I subscribe 
my hearty good wishes for the success of 
the invention for the purpose of pro- 
curing the desired information. Inqui- 
ries have been directed to the consulta- 
tion of Sir Humphrey Davy, Professors 
Turner and Ure, and several other cele- 
brated authors. In this way the author 
has obtained the most accurate knowl- 
edge of the chemistry of tanning, and 
for giving a full and comprehensive 
treatise on changing hides into leather. 


The art of tanning is that by which 
animal skins are converted into leather, 
a product differing entirely from that 
of the raw material, and adapting it 
to the useful purpose for which it is 
employed. The properties imparted are 
of a physical nature, and vary with the 
kind of skin employed and the modifica- 
tions of the process which it undergoes. 
Chemically considered, however, leather 
is a definite compound of tannin and 
gelatin. Tanning, as an art, dates as 


far back as nine hundred years before 
Christ. The methods resorted to in 
early times consisted of little more 
than merely cleansing and drying the 
skins ; and, thus prepared, the latter 
were used for clothing, &c. Leather 
was largely in use among the ancient 
Egyptians, and the workers of that 
material were so numerous that the 
Memnonian quarter, Thebes, was charac- 
terized as their especial locality. Their 
skill in fashioning it was so great that 
ornaments of all shapes and devices 
were made from it. Leather was made 
by them into tapestry, and many of the 
Egyptian tombs bear representations of 
artificers in leather engaged in the 
several branches of their vocation. 

The principal steps in the manufac- 
ture of leather are the washing and 
soaking, for the purpose of cleaning and 
softening the skins, and preparing them 


for the removal of the hair. This is 
effected by the use of lime, or other 
substances which destroy, dissolve, or 
soften the bulbous roots of the hair, 
and thus facilitate its removal by 
mere mechanical scraping with a blunt- 
edged knife. During this part of the 
process, another important end is gen- 
erally accomplished in the swelling of 
the tissues and their preparations for 
the more complete and easy absorption 
of the tanning principle. The primitive 
mode of removing the hair was that of 
shaving it off with a knife ; but the use 
of lime was known even among the 
early Egyptians. When the rationale 
of depilation is better understood by 
practical tanners, the slow and incon- 
venient process of depilation by means 
of lime must give place to more effective, 
rapid, and economical methods. In 
later times, these defects were remedied 


by immersing the cleansed and de- 
haired skin in an infusion of oak bark 
or solution of alum, and thus, by effect- 
ing a union between one or more con- 
stituents of the liquor and a gelatinous 
tissue of the skin, producing a new- 
compound with desirable properties. 
The principles governing this reaction 
have been, in more recent days, devel- 
oped by the investigations of Proust, 
Deyeaux, McBride, and Sir Humphrey 
Davy ; and it is owing to the researches 
of these inquirers that the occupation of 
the tanner has been elevated from the 
condition of an empirical pursuit to that 
of an art based upon scientific princi- 
ples. Many improvements in the art 
have been made by the aid of inge- 
niously contrived machinery, and much 
has been done to hasten the process of 

Tanning consists in the combination of 


the gelatinous tissue with tannin by im- 
mersing the skins in an infusion of oak 
bark or other substances containing 
tannin. The tanning influence is proba- 
bly not exerted solely by the tannin, 
but also partly by the extractive matter, 
more or less of which always exists in 
the tanning material. 

During the soaking, the epidermis of 
the skins disappears, and the tissue of 
the latter is gelatinized, and thus predis- 
posed to chemical union with the tannin. 
This gelatinization of the tissues is all- 
essential, and is promoted by the gallic 
acid fermentation of the tanning mate- 
rial. This is the more probable science. 
The same effect may be produced by 
the use of a very dilute acetic, and 
other operations intended to perfect the 
quality and appearance of the leather. 
Leather is employed for many useful 
and ornamental purposes ; and numerous 



are its applications to various branches 
of industry. Besides its extensive use 
for covering the head and feet, wearing 
apparel, saddles, harness, carriages, and 
the purposes of the book-binder, it is 
largely employed for the embellishment 
of objects of taste and ornament. In- 
dependently of the direct importance 
of the leather trade, it exerts a very 
decided incidental influence in devel- 
oping the resources of a country, by 
giving value to certain materials used 
in and resulting from its manufacture. 
Besides the immense employment which 
it gives to thousands of artisans, it has 
built up colonies and towns, which owe 
their origin and progress entirely to the 
interests connected with it. Even the 
waste materials of slaughter-houses, tan- 
neries, curriers' shops and workers in 
leather, have important applications — 
the horns serving for the manufacture 


of combs, buttons, and umbrella furni- 
ture ; the hair for plastering ; the spent 
lime for the farmer; the skin-clippings 
for the glue-boiler ; and the leather 
shavings for the manufacturer of prus- 
siate of potash. The following state- 
ments will give an idea of the vast 
extent and rapid increase of the trade 
in leather. 

In France — a country eminent for the 
quantity and quality of the leather 
which it produces — the average number 
of skins annually converted into leather 
is about three millions of whole skins, 
exclusive of sheep and calf skins. In 
the United States, the manufacture of 
leather is only beginning to be of much 
importance. Since the early part of 
the present century it has been rapidly 
extended, until it has become, with its 
allied and dependent arts, one of the 
most prominent elements of national 


prosperity. This improved system is 
conducted in the most simple and primi- 
tive manner. The expenditure both of 
time and labor is now materially re- 
duced by the different modes and 
treatment of the process. The unpar- 
alleled success which has attended the 
introduction of the patent process set 
forth in this work, and the nattering 
encomiums bestowed upon the direc- 
tions given in a former edition, induce 
me to extend them a little farther, 
hoping they will be understood by all 
those who will avail themselves of this 
improved system for the manufacture of 

I have extended the information in 
this, the third edition of directions, and 
hope that my fellow-tanners will read 
them with a generous allowance for the 
imperfect style in which they are given ; 
hoping, also, that they will keep in 


mind that they are not fiction, but sober 
truths, intended expressly for the appli- 
cation of the process. 

For some time past my whole time 
and attention have been given exclu- 
sively to the introduction of this pro- 
cess, believing from the first that its 
merits would, in time, bring it into 
general use, which is now acknowledged 
to be a fixed fact by those most con- 
versant with it. Its general adoption 
is now only a question of time ; for as 
fast as it becomes known it is adopted. 
This being the case, I wish to give all 
the information I can respecting the 
manner and different methods of using 
it. To those tanners who have adopted 
and seen fit to recommend this new 
process for tanning leather, I return my 
sincere thanks, and assure them that 
their kindness to me, and approbation 
of the improvement, wi]l not be for- 


We append a statistical table, com- 
piled from the returns of the seventh 
census, showing the condition of the 
tanning interest. 

The National Intelligencer compiles, 
from the census returns, the following 
table of the tanneries in the United 
States, in A. D. 1850 : 

No. of establishments, . . 9,263 

Capital invested, . . . $18,900,557 

Value of raw material, . 19,613,237 

Value of product, . . . 32,861,796 

The number of hides is 6,128,070; 
skins, 2,653,865; and about 6,000,000 
sheep, goat, and other small skins tan- 
ned and dressed annually, which are not 
included in the number. The number 
of hands employed is 20,909 males and 
102 females. The monthly wages of 
the males amount to $416,214 ; of the 
females, $970. The number of sides of 


leather produced annually, is 12,557,940, 
and of skins, 2 7 653,865. 

The foregoing estimates were care- 
fully compiled from the returns of the 
seventh census, for the National Intel- 
ligencer, and may be considered correct. 

Leather forms one of the heaviest 
items among the staples of American 
merchandise, and the demands for it 
are daily increasing, in addition to its 
extensive employment for the embel- 
lishment of objects of taste and orna- 

If we take it for granted that the 
leather trade has advanced in amount 
at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum, 
for the last seven years, the figures 
should now stand thus : 

Amount of capital in- 
vested, .... $32,030,946 90 
Value of raw material, 33,342,502 90 
Value of product, . . 55,865,053 20 


These calculations may fall short of, 
but it is believed that they do not 
exceed, the truth. They may at least 
serve to indicate the vast extent and 
rapid increase of the leather trade in 
this country. But what must it be a 
quarter of a century hence \ 

At the present rate of increase, we 
may fairly calculate that in twenty-five 
years hence the tanning and currying 
business will have teipled, thus placing 
it almost in the van of all domestic 
manufactures. A business of such ex- 
tent and importance, well deserves the 
attention of the manufacturer, for what- 
ever abridges and facilitates the process, 
adds to the value of the capital invested. 

The claims of this Patent are reason- 
able and philosophical. Tanning is 
wholly a chemical process, converting 
hides into leather. The perfection of 
the results of this process, depends not 


so much upon the energy and proper 
combination of such astringent proper- 
ties and chemicals as are employed to 
effect it. The more rapid the action of 
these agents, and the quicker their 
work is done, the more perfect is the 
article manufactured. This is the doc- 
trine of the improvement set forth 
in this work ; and its correctness, econ- 
omy, and great utility, we are ready to 
submit to the scrutiny of science and 
the test of the most thorough experi- 

The leather manufactured by this 
process is of a finer texture, softer, sus- 
ceptible of a higher finish, less porous, 
more pliable, stronger, heavier, and more 
durable than leather tanned in the ordi- 
nary way. The quality of the material 
itself — which any man may examine — 
and its use and trial for years, authorize 
these high claims. They are announced 


to the public with the most implicit 
confidence in their accuracy and relia- 

We respectfully invite particular at- 
tention to the following statements : — ■ 

The numerous and great advantages 
of this improvement, both to the manu- 
facturer and to the consumer, are mat- 
ters on which the most satisfactory 
information may be obtained. 

The adoption of this process by every 
tanner in the United States is practic- 
able. It consists chiefly in the applica- 
tion of a proper compound or combina- 
tion of certain chemicals to the usual 
bark, liquors or other astringent prop- 
erties, possessing tannin, thereby caus- 
ing a much more rapid advancement in 
the tanning of leather than is or can be 
produced by the ordinary process. It 
requires no new fixtures or expensive 
outlay. After the hides are tanned by 


this process, the scouring, stuffing, oil- 
ing, blackening, and finishing are con- 
ducted as they ever have been. 

This improvement will be found of 
great general economy and utility. A 
correct knowledge of it must secure its 
universal adoption. The following facts 
sustain this conclusion:- — Many of the 
most experienced, scientific, and enlight- 
ened tanners and other artisans con- 
nected with the manufacture or sale of 
leather, have certified to the superior 
excellence of the leather manufactured 
by this process, as possessing all the es- 
sential properties requisite for beauty 
and utility. We believe a similar opin- 
ion is entertained by all who have care- 
fully examined the leather, and who are 
competent to form a correct judgment 
of the article manufactured. 

To capitalists, and especially to those 
who have invested large amounts of 


money in the manufacture of leather, 
the following estimates, showing the 
difference in the expense of tanning, be- 
tween the old method and this patent 
process of tanning, will be interesting : — 


To present this matter so as it may 
be readily comprehended by those doing 
a small business, we will exhibit it on a 
a small scale. Under the old metiiod 
of tanning with bark, two men will tan 
and finish 4,000 sides of sole leather in 
one year. Their wages, at $30 per 
month, will be $720 ; the sides, in the 
raw and dry state, will weigh on an 
average, 11 lbs. per side, making 44,000 
lbs. ; at 32 cents per lb., they will cost 
$14,080 ; they will consume 270 cords 
of oak bark, at $7 per cord, making 
$1,890 ; rent of tan-yard, $150, interest 
on hides, $844 80; interest on bark, 


$113 40; whole cost when finished, is 
$17,798 20. The 4,000 sides of leather 
will weigh on an average, 16 lbs. per 
side, making 64,000 lbs. At 32 cents 
per lb. they would bring $20,480, afford- 
ing a net gain of $2,681 80 for one 
year's tanning on the old system. 

one year's work by this new 


Under this patented improved system 
of tanning, one man will tan and finish 
4,000 sides in one year. At $30 per 
month, his wages will be $360 ; the sides 
will weigh on an average in the raw 
and dry state, 11 lbs. per side, making 
44,000 lbs.; at 32 cents per lb. they 
will cost $14,080 ; they will consume 
135 cords of bark at $7 per cord, mak- 
ing $945, and chemicals to the amount 
of $600; rent of tan-yard, $150; the 
interest on the hides for six months, will 


be $422 40 ; the interest on the chemi- 
cals will be $18 ; the interest on the 
bark will be $28 35 ; making the 
whole cost of tanning 4,000 sides under 
this system, only $16,243 75. The 
weight of the 4,000 sides when finished, 
will be, on an average, 17 lbs. per side, 
making 68,000 lbs. of leather — a gain in 
weight of 4,000 lbs. over those tanned 
by the old method at 32 cents per lb. ; 
—the whole would bring $21,760. The 
net gain is $5,516 25. Showing an 
advantage over the old method of tan- 
ning in one year, even on this limited 
scale, of $2,834 45 ; besides, the leather 
tanned by this process has a brighter 
color, more the appearance of oak-tan- 
ned leather, and commands a higher 
price in the market. 

The above is a clear and accurate cal- 
culation of the cost of tanning, both 
with this process and the old method, 


and the result makes its own appeal to 
the good sense of all who are anywise 
interested in the profits arising from 
leather. Tanners ! see yon not that if 
so much can be saved by applying this 
patent process to tanning on so diminu- 
tive a scale, that the ratio of profit 
would be vastly increased by employ- 
ing it on a more extended plan ? You 
are invited to investigate this matter. 
If, on examination, you find that a sub- 
stantial saving of even ten or fifteen per 
cent, can be made on a year's business 
by adopting this new process, you will 
not fail to see where your interest leads 
you ; for ten per cent, over and above 
your accustomed profits would, in a few 
years, secure for you an independent 

It is plain that the advantages of this 
mode of tanning, even to one who tans 
only sole leather on a small scale, are 


very great ; and to those who find it 
difficult to obtain the usual quantity of 
bark, it will be invaluable. Where 
bark is plenty and can be obtained at a 
small cost, it also is valuable, for only 
one-half the usual quantity of bark will 
be found necessary. By adopting this 
method then, the tanner who consumes 
1,000 cords of bark per year, will re- 
quire only 500 cords ; a saving at once 
of from $1,600 to $2,000 on bark alone, 
in one year. 

A brief summary of the advantages 
of this patent process of tanning, may be 
stated thus : 

Hides or skins can be tanned at much 
less expense than by the usual method. 
Common size calf, sheep, goat, deer, or 
other similar skins, can be tanned in 
from four to twelve days, at an expense 
of from fifty cents to one dollar and 
fifty cents per dozen. Heavier leather, 



such as kip, upper, bridle, skirting, 
harness, and sole leather, can be tanned 
in from twenty to ninety days, with a 
proportionate increase of expense, ac- 
cording to the thickness of the hide and 
strength of liquors used. 

The liquors used in this process are 
in all cases applied to the hides or skins 
only in a cold state, and the leather 
manufactured by it has been found to 
possess more pliability, greater strength 
and durability, and a much larger in- 
crease of weight. It forms a finer tex- 
ture, and gives it a handsomer bloom, 
and consequently finishes much better ; 
thereby rendering it more impervious to 
water than leather tanned by the old 

The whole process can be learned by 
any tanner in a very short time. 

The apparatus and the different stages 
of the process of tanning, are the same 


or similar to the usual method ; but 
capable, in fitting a new establishment, 
of being more compactly arranged, and 
at much less expense. 

It requires less room or space to 
carry on the business. 

Parties wishing to satisfy themselves 
on any point named in this or any other 
chapter of this work on which it is 
proper to give general information, 
are invited to call on the patentee 
or his agent, and examine the sys- 
tem in its practical operations, see the 
leather manufactured, and witness ex- 
periments which they are prepared to 
make at any time, for the purpose of 
illustrating and corroborating the claims 
of this patent, for which letters were 
granted on the 14th day of April, 1857. 


The hides and skins retain their 
original name nntil they have been sub- 
jected to the treatment of the various 
processes they have to undergo before 
they become leather. The quality of 
leather depends not only upon the 
nature of the skin and the mode of 
tanning it, but upon the result of 
numerous minor details, which require 
especial care and attention. Skins from 
large cattle are best, provided they are 
not thin and flabby, for such will make 


only inferior leather. Those from cattle 
slaughtered in the colder months give 
five per cent, more leather than hides 
taken in summer. The nature of the 
food and state of the animal's health, 
also, 'have an influence upon the quality 
of the hide. For the production of 
forty pounds of leather, there are 
required, on an average, twenty-five 
pounds of dry hide, fifty-six pounds of 
salted hide, or seventy pounds of 
marked hide. 


Buenos Ayres hides are taken from 
the wild cattle which are run down by 
hunters. After being removed from 


the carcass they are spread upon the 
ground, with the flesh side uppermost, 
and left exposed to the sun and air until 
dry. To prevent shrinking, the hides 
are kept stretched by means of wooden 
pegs driven through the corners into 
the earth. 

One of these cattle, a Spanish bul- 
lock of the largest size, is before repre- 
sented ; and also the natives or hunters 
in search of wild cattle are represented 
by a wood engraving in front of this 

Brazilian hides are nearly all slaugh- 
tered in the ordinary manner. It would 
be greatly to the interest of the tanner, 
and would save him much annoyance, if 
all hides were imported in a green 
state : that is, merely salted ; for, when 
dry, it is very difficult even for the 
most experienced to detect many de- 
fects which would impair the quality of 


the leather into which they are to be 
converted. The large ox hides are the 
ones chiefly used for conversion into 
sole leather; for cow skins, though of 
denser structure, are rather too thin for 
this purpose, and are, therefore, reserved 
for making saddler's leather. This re- 
mark applies only to the hides of old 
cows that have repeatedly calved. 


These are weak and distended, but 
often tan well, and make good harness 
leather, and sometimes make a very 
good quality of upper leather. The 


hides of heifers, on the contrary, are 
equal, if not superior, to those of 

Bull hides, on the other hand, are the 
least esteemed for making good leather, 
being thinner and more flabby than 
those of either oxen or cows. 


A well-fed, moderately-worked ox, 
when slaughtered in a healthy condi- 
tion, will naturally yield a hide of 
normal quality; but if sick, lean, or 
deficient in hair at the time of being 
killed, then the hide is not adapted for 
making good leather. Should the ani- 
mal die suddenly by accident, without 


being in a diseased condition, the 
quality of the hide is not thereby 
impaired. The hides from unhealthy 
bullocks or horses present a decided 
difference from those of the same ani- 
mals slaughtered in a sound condition. 
This difference is not distinguishable 
by any very evident characteristic, 
though it seldom escapes the sagacity 
of an experienced tanner. There are 
no definite rules for estimating the 
quality of hides. If a skin is free from 
any defects, and has sufficient strength 
and thickness, with body and firmness, 
then it may be presumed that it will 
tan well and make good leather. 

A skin presenting the opposite charac- 
teristics — that is, flabby, soft, thin, weak, 
and will not bear handling — should not 
be considered reliable. These signs, how- 
ever, are not always unerring, for anom- 
alous cases frequently occur. Indeed. 



it may sometimes happen that the hides 
from a diseased carcass, differing in 
appearance from the rest, will produce 
excellent leather. 

As the skins could not be kept any 
length of time in a fresh state without 
being injured by putrefaction ; and as it 
would be impossible to transfer them as 
soon as slaughtered to the tan vats, they 
are preserved unaltered by salting or 
drying them. The country butchers 
stretch them out in drying-lofts or in 
the shade, while those in the city gen- 
erally salt them. In the sale of unsalted 
green hides there are certain reprehensi- 
ble frauds which it is difficult to pro- 
vide against. For instance^ not only 
are the horns, ears, and other less valua- 
ble parts left upon the skin, but some 
butchers, in order still further to 
increase its weight, beds the animal 
before slaughtering in filth and mire, 


and then, after skinning it, trail the 
hide on the dusty ground. 

Domestic, slaughtered, and heavy 
hides are converted into sole, belt, and 
harness leather. The very largest are 
selected and enameled for carriage tops. 
The smaller and lighter ones are used 
for skirting and bridle leather. In the 
old method they have to undergo a 
bleaching process, termed fair finish, 
which is avoided in this process of 
tanning. The smaller hides are some- 
times converted into upper, and also for 
enameling and japanning, termed patent 
leather, when intended for shoes. The 
hides from the northern latitudes are 
preferable to those from the south. 
Hides from the extreme south are par- 
ticularly objectionable for conversion 
into leather. Those from California, 
when free from the defects caused by 
unskillful skinning, are of good quality. 


and will tan well and make good 


Spanish or South American dry hides 
are generally converted into sole leather 
and occasionally into "belt leather. 
Those imported in the green and salted 
state are sometimes made into upper 
leather, which is of fair quality. 

African hides from the west coast 
make good uppers ; but they are largely 
used in their raw state for covering hair 
trunks. Madagascar hides are good 
when perfect, which is rarely the case, 
as they are liable to injury during 
curing transit. 

The hides of the neat yearlings go 
into calf skins. Of these latter, there 



are "patna" kips, and common calf for 
bookbinders. The patna' kips are very 
inferior, though frequently sold as " Cal- 
cutta kips." 


Calcutta or Nag ore Cattle. — These 
cattle grow to a very large size, and are 
used in India by the higher orders to 
draw their state carriages, and are much 
valued for their size, speed, and endur- 
ance, and sell at very high prices. They 
will travel, with a rider on their back, 
fifteen or sixteen hours a day, at the 
rate of six miles an hour. Their action 
is particularly fine. The Nagore cattle 


bring their hind legs under them in as 
straight a line as the horse. They are 
very active, and can clear a five-barred 
gate with the greatest ease. 

Hides from Calcutta or Nagore cattle 
have the distinctive property of greater 
weight, and, when perfectly tanned, 
make a superior quality of leather. 
Tanners have undertaken to tan them, 
but failed in the experiment and pro- 
nounced the hides worthless. 

I, at one time, for an experiment, 
tanned six dozen of Calcutta kip skins, 
in the space of fourteen days, by this 
process of tanning ; and the leather pro- 
duced was of a very handsome quality. 
They were pronounced to be a superior 
article of leather by some of the best 
judges and most experienced leather 
manufacturers. One dozen of those 
skins were taken to the State fair in 
Pennsylvania, and were awarded the 


first premium for being the best leather 
on exhibition. These kips sold at an 
advance price of fifteen per cent, in the 
Philadelphia market. 

Hides from the largest of these cattle 
are best suited for making good leather, 
being strong and heavy, provided they 
have not undergone any injury during 
the importation. 

A few kips come from South Amer- 
ica, and some from England and Ireland. 
The supplies of the tanneries are mostly 
domestic skins. 


Calf Skins are valued in proportion 
to their strength and size, and, when 
properly tanned, make excellent leather 


for boots and shoes, and also make supe- 
rior patent japanned (termed patent 
calf skin) leather for fine wear. The 
skins of young calves are sometimes 
converted into parchment. The French 
tanners, who are renowned for the 
excellence of their calf leather, use the 
skins taken from animals of Hve or six 
months of age. Those from calves of 
less than two months old are very infe- 
rior, and only suitable for the manufac- 
ture of parchment. 

Calf skins tanned by this process 
have superior advantages over those 
tanned by the old method. I have fre- 
quently heard gentlemen say they wore 
a pair of calf-skin boots on their feet 
which were manufactured from leather 
tanned by this process, and that they 
have worn them every day for a period 
of four months, without overshoes, and 
their feet have not been damp once, 



though they have repeatedly walked in 
the snow and sleet; and at present 
there is not the slightest appearance of 
cracking in the uppers, and the soles are 
apparently as good as the first day they 
put them on their feet. Calf-skins 
tanned by this process possess more 
strength, have a finer texture, and pro- 
duce a handsomer grain ; are more 
pliable and durable, and more impervi- 
ous to moisture, than when tanned by 
the old method. 



Hoese Hides are tanned for uppers, 
and make good leather. They are also 
tanned for thongs, for sewing belts, &c, 
and are the best material for that pur- 
pose. Horse hides make good leather 
for japanning and enameling purposes ; 
when well tanned and properly finished, 
make a superior leather for shoes and 
fancy mountings for ornaments of taste. 

Goat Skins, when tanned and curried, 
are used for the uppers of ladies' shoes. 
Tanned in a particular manner and 
dyed with fancy colors, they constitute 


Morocco or Turkey leather. The best 
goat skins come from Mexico, and are 
known in commerce as Tampico skins. 
The sound skins from the Cape of Good 
Hope are very large, and far superior to 
those from Madras and the Cape de 
Verds. Goat skins, when properly 
tanned and manufactured into good 
Morocco, make a superior leather for 
ladies' and gentlemen's wear, which is 
soft and pliable to the feet. 


Sheep Skins, when tanned in the old 
way, make a spongy, weak leather, used 
principally for lining and trunk trim- 
mings. Saddlers and bookbinders also 


use them largely. "When tanned by 
this process, they can be curried and 
blackened the same as calf skins ; and 
they will make a very good leather for 
light shoes. 

I have frequently tanned sheep skins 
by this process, and finished them in the 
same manner as true Morocco. The 
results of the many experiments prove 
to our fullest satisfaction, that sheep 
skins, when tanned and finished in this 
way, have many advantages over the 
old method of tanning leather: they 
are finer, more pliable and durable, and 
more impervious to moisture ; and, when 
manufactured into boots and shoes for 
summer wear, they give full satisfaction 
to all who will give them a fair trial. 


Deer Skins, when tanned and fin- 
ished in a proper manner, are nsed for 
the uppers of shoes ; and, when finished 
in a particular way, make a superior 
leather for many purposes. By tawing, 
they are converted into chamois or wash 
leather, which is also made from goat 

Leather is differently designated in 
commerce, according to the use for 
which it is intended. For example: 
harness leather is blackened on the 
grain ; russet is fair finished leather ; 
wax leather is blackened on the flesh 


side; and buff is that with the grain 
divided by careful shaving, and black- 
ened on the grain side. There are vari- 
ous methods of manufacturing patent 
leather which I will not describe mi- 

Mode of Salting Hides. — This meth- 
od consists in laying open the hide 
upon the ground and sprinkling the 
flesh sides with salt, more liberally at 
the edges and spinal portions than on 
other parts. They are then folded or 
doubled lengthwise down the center ; 
the remaining folds are made over each 
other, commencing with the shank, then 
the peak of the belly upon the back, 
afterward the head upon the tail part, 
•and the tail part upon the head; and 
lastly, by doubling the whole with a 
final fold and forming a square of one 
or two feet. This being done, they are 
then piled three and three together, and 



left until the salt has dissolved and 
penetrated their tissue, which generally 
requires two or three days. Thus pre- 
pared, they are sent to market. Skins 
may be dried, even after having been 
salted, by stretching them upon poles, 
with the flesh side uppermost, and ex- 
posing them to dry air in a shady place. 
Ten pounds of salt in summer, and some- 
what less in winter, are requisite for 
each skin of ordinary size. 


The skin of animals consists of an ex- 
terior covering, the epidermis, or cuticle, 
under which is a thin stratum of a pe- 
culiar substance, called by anatomists, 
rete mucosum, which lies immediately 
upon the cutis corium dermis, or true 
skin. The epidermis varies in thickness 
on different parts of the body; it is 
little prone to decomposition, insoluble 
in water, in alcohol, and dilute acids. 
Concentrated nitric and sulphuric acids 
soften and ultimately dissolve it. The 


caustic fixed alkalies dissolve it even 
when considerably diluted, but not the 
carbonated alkalies. It is stained by 
several substances, so far indelibly 
that the color remains till the cuticle 
peels off. It does not combine with 
tannin. Corns, and similar induration, 
resemble the epidermis in their general 
chemical characters ; and horn, hoof, 
calves' feet, cows' heels, sheep's trotters, 
pigs' petitoes, nails, claws, tortoise shell, 
hair, wool, feathers, and scales may be 
regarded as modifications of it. All 
these substances partake more or less of 
the character of dry albumen, and 
Hatchett's researches have shown that 
the analogies between them are, in many 
cases, only broken by the presence of 
foreign substances. The general color 
of the surface of the body resides in the 
rete mucosum, the tint of which is much 
dependent upon the influence of light. 


The black skin of the African, the 
brown of the Asiatic and American, 
and the pinkish-white of the European, 
derive their color from this peculiar 
secretion deposited between the cutis 
and cuticle. The nature of this sub- 
stance has not been chemically investi- 
gated, but it has been ascertained, in 
regard to the black of the negro, that it 
admits of being bleached by chlorine. 
The cutis or true skin is of a fibrous 
texture, and, when boiled in water, is to 
a great extent soluble, leaving the vas- 
cular and nervous filaments which per- 
vade it. The solution, when slowly 
evaporated, leaves gelatine, which is the 
principal and characteristic component 
of the cutis. The skins of animals con- 
sist of fibrine, gelatine, and small por- 
tions of albumen and fatty matter. The 
first two form, as it were, the basis or 
net-work of the whole tissue, a portion 


of which, if boiled with water, yields 
its gelatine, while the fibrine remains. 
The epidermis of the skin does not com- 
bine with tannin. The properties of 
these substances, which j)lay such an 
important part in tanning, are as fol- 
lows : Fibrine is one of the immediate 
and most abundant principles in animals. 
It exists in the chyle and blood, and is 
the basis of muscle ; it is a white, taste- 
less, inodorous solid, heavier than water, 
soft, slightly elastic, and without action 
upon litmus. Fibrine loses four fifths of 
its weight by drying, and becomes yel- 
lowish, hard, and brittle, but regains 
much of its original appearance by soak- 
ing in water. It is insoluble in cold 
water, and hardens without dissolving 
in hot water, but is modified in its com- 
position and properties. When left in 
contact with cold water for several days, 
decomposition, accompanied by a cheesey 


appearance, ensues. Dilute sulphuric 
acid shrivels flesh fibrine, and ultimately 
combines with it, forming a jelly soluble 
in water. Dry fibrine is changed by 
strong acid into a yellow, gelatinous 
mass, without being dissolved. If the 
acid be very dilute, the fibrine swells 
and becomes gelatinous. Concentrated 
acetic acid rapidly gelatinizes fibrine 
and renders it soluble in hot water. 
Tannin precipitates it from both its acid 
and alkaline solutions, and, when fresh 
fibrine is immersed in a solution of tan- 
nin, it becomes, on drying, tough, hard, 
and imputrescible. Gluten is the prin- 
cipal component of glue, and prepared 
in a pure state by soaking the latter 
repeatedly in quantities of fresh water 
until all soluble matters are removed, 
and by then boiling and straining the 
residue. Gelatine is colorless, or yellow- 
ish, transparent, tasteless, and inodorous. 


It does not lose its transparency by dry- 
ing, but becomes hard, brittle, and 
horny. It softens and swells, and very 
slightly dissolves in cold water, but is 
very soluble in hot water, from which 
alcohol precipitates it. Repeated and 
successive boiling and cooling of its 
aqueous solution impairs its gelatinizing 
property. The characteristic property 
of gelatine is that of combining with 
tannin and forming a grayish, glutinous, 
elastic compound, which, upon drying, 
becomes unalterable and imputrescible 
in water, and forms the basis of leather. 
The mutual affinity of these two sub- 
stances is so strong that the latter will 
precipitate the former from a solution 
containing as little as one part in five 
thousand parts of water. Gelatine does 
not exist exactly as such in skins, and 
therefore leather, (a compound of gela- 
tinous tissue and tannin,) though very 


analogous to, is not strictly identical 
with, this elastic precipitate of tanno- 
gelatine, which is slightly soluble in 
water, and becomes brittle on drying. 

Mulder, who has examined the sub- 
ject, says there are two definite com- 
pounds of tannin with gelatine. For 
example, when a solution of pure gela- 
tine is mixed with one containing a great 
excess of tannin, the resulting precip- 
itate, which is white and curdy, and 
becomes reddish-brown, hard, and brit- 
tle on drying, consists of one equivalent 
of tannic acid and one of gelatine. This 
is the neutral compound. If, however, 
the tannin be not added in excess, then 
the compound will contain three equiva- 
lents of gelatine and two of tannic acid. 
Earthy and metallic salts, throw down 
double compounds, one with acid and 
another with metallic oxide, the latter 
of which is wholly insoluble while the 


former is not entirely so. Tannin pre- 
cipitates albuminous solutions, but the 
resulting compound is not softened by 
heat, like the tanno-gelatine. 

Tannic acid combines with animal 
gelatine, forming an insoluble curdy 
precipitate. A piece of prepared skin 
introduced into a solution of tannic acid 
absorbs the acid and is converted into 
leather. A hide is composed of gluten. 
Leather and gluten are two very dif- 
ferent and distinct substances. Leather 
is formed by a chemical action. The 
affinity of tannin and gluten is very 
great, and by the combination of these 
two substances we produce leather. 
This apparently compact mass of gluten, 
called green hide, is composed of mil- 
lions of minute cellular fibres, inter- 
woven and running in every conceivable 
direction, forming a strong network. 


In order to prepare the raw hides for 
the action of the tanning materials, it is 
necessary to subject them to several pre- 
liminary operations. These consist in 
washing and soaking, liming or unhair- 

Hide Mill or Fulling Stocks, and Washing Machine. — 
These machines are employed for the purpose of softening 
and washing the filthy matter from the hides, and thus, 
by bringing them as nearly as possible to the fresh state 
of the skins when first taken from the carcass, to facilitate 
the after process of depilation and tanning. The hides, 
with the hair on, are first soaked in cold water for twenty- 
four hours, or longer if necessary, and are then subjected 
to the action of the hide mill for an hour, which time is 
generally sufficient to render them pliable. Eight or 


ing, and bating. Washing and soaking 
the hides is the first operation they must 
undergo, and it is therefore a great con- 
venience to have the tannery located 
upon or near to a stream or running 
spring, with an abundance of water. 
The skins are taken in a green, dry, or 
salted state. The green hides are 
those from recently slaughtered animals. 
They are placed in the pool of water 
and left to soak for half a day, or longer 
if necessary, for the removal of blood 
and adhering dirt. If the skins are not 
very dirty, an hour is sufficient. If it 
should be necessary to soak them for a 

twelve skins, according to their size and thickness, are 
generally put in the machine at once. A small stream of 
clean water is allowed to run into the apparatus upon the 
hides ; and the washings, or dirty, filthy matter contained 
in them, is allowed to drain off at the bottom of the ma- 
chine. This method of preparing the skins for the liming 
and tanning processes dispenses with the laborious mani- 
pulations to which they are commouly subjected, and 
preserves their quality — not injured as they were in the 
old way by the hands of the workmeD. It also presents 


longer time, they must be handled or 
moved about at frequent intervals. Dry 
hides necessarily require a longer soak- 
ing, and, to expedite the operation, it is 
necessary to remove them from the 
water and subject them to the fulling 
stocks or mill frequently. If there is no 
hide mill in the tannery, they must be 
stretched upon the wooden horse and 
scraped downwards with a fleshing knife. 
The fleshing should be repeated once or 
twice. The washing and scraping must 
be continued until all the slimy and 
other animal matters which are prone to 
putrefaction are removed. No definite 

the additional advantage of not requiring a long exposure 
to the action of lime, which is so apt to injure their tissue. 
After the hides remain a sufficient length of time in the 
lime, the hair is removed by the workmen, and then sub- 
jected to the washing machine for the purpose of washing 
out the lime, which is accomplished in a very short space 
of time. The skins are then taken to the wooden horse 
and fleshed by the workmen. They are then placed in the 
hide mill and beaten in the same manner as before for an 
hour or so, washed and rinsed in a pool of clean water, 


length of time can be prescribed for the 
soaking of the skins ; they are to re- 
main in the water until they have 
become supple, and the intelligence of 
the workman must determine when this 
point is attained. If this work is done 
by the aid of a fulling, or hide mill, as 
it is termed, it can be accomplished in 
one-tenth of both time and labor. If 
the soaking should be prolonged, the 
hides will acquire a tendency to putrefy. 
When the skins have been all soaked 
and washed as above directed, and are 
sufficiently supple, they are returned to 
and left in the water for a short time. 

and then placed upon a truck car and conveyed to the tan 
pits, and there deposited in a weak solution of tannin 
liquor. A description of this machine, for the fulling of 
both small and large skins, is represented on the left end 
of the engraving in front of this chapter, giving an angle 
elevation. The trough in which the skins are placed is 
six feet long, three wide, and two deep in the clear, with 
a concave bottom. The end presents a quarter circle, 
against which the hides are beaten. The mallets or ham- 
mers are two and a half feet long on the under side, and 


(five or six hours.) Some attention 
must always be given to the nature of 
the water, the size of the hides, and tem- 
perature of the atmosphere. It must 
be remembered that a too long contin- 
ued soaking in the same water exposes 
the skins to the danger of putrefaction ; 
and the rapidity of this decomposition 
is proportional to the amount of filthy, 
foreign matter contained in the water. 

If the hides are subjected to the 
fulling stocks, or hide mill, as it is 
termed, and worked for a short time 
with judicious care, and having a small 
stream of clean soft water running in at 

one and a half on the top side, one and a half feet deep, 
and one and a half thick, with grooved cast-iron plates 
fastened to each end of the mallets, supported by Wo 
upright levers ten feet long, the lower end mortised in the 
center of the hammers, and fastened at the top of the 
frame by a bolt of iron and wedges, so as to make the 
hammers perform their work correctly and prevent them 
from swaying out of place. The whole frame and size of 
the machine is twelve feet long, four feet wide, and ten 
feet high. The hide mill can be driven by water or steam 


one end of the mill on the skins, while 
the dirty, filthy matter contained in 
them is washed out at the other end, 
skins thus treated can be softened and 
washed out completely in a very short 
time. This operation of treating the 
hides is represented by a wood engrav- 
ing in front of this chapter. By this 
method, one man can cleanse a thousand 
hides in the short space of twelve hours. 
The hides which have been well 
salted, but not dried, can be cleansed in 
a very short time in the same way as 
aforesaid. These manipulations are ne- 
cessary not only for removing salt and 

power. There are two pitments — the end of one being 
attached to the upright levers, about three feet from the 
bottom, and the other end attached to a cast-iron crank, 
each arm of the crank being ten inches in length, the two 
cranks forming a circle of about twenty inches in diam- 
eter, giving the mallets about a thirty-inch stroke upon 
the hides, driven at the rate of about eighty or one hun- 
dred strokes to the minute. A band or cog-wheel is 
attached to one end of the shaft when driven by power. 


dirt, but also for rendering them soft 
and supple. When they are taken from 
the water for the last time, the rinsing 
must be vigorous and thorough. 

Some manufacturers contend that the 
quality of the leather is improved in 
proportion to the duration of the time 
of soaking the skin. It is still undenia- 
ble that, when it exceeds a certain time, 
the skin acquires a tendency to decompo- 
sition, and the quality of the leather is 
thus impaired. It is a mooted point 
whether the nature of the water used 
for soaking has any influence upon the 
quality of the leather. From a 

Washing Machine. — This machine is represented on the 
right end of the engraving. Its form and size are in the 
shape of a drum, five feet in diameter and six feet long, 
closed up at each end, with a trap-door in the front end 
for the purpose of passing the skins in and out. A pipe 
is so arranged in the center of the washer as to allow a 
small stream of clean water to pass in upon the hides, and 
small holes are made around the edge of the front end to 
let the dirty water pass out, with plugs to stop the holes 


practical knowledge on this point, we 
will not take the affirmative side of the 
question. It is undeniable that the 
leather known as calf skin, upper, <fcc., 
and which, by its very nature and des- 
tined use, should be soft and supple, 
requires a soft, fresh, running water, 
and, consequently, that it will be diffi- 
cult to make them so with hard water. 
Rain water is the purest, but all drinka- 
ble waters are applicable for tanning 
purposes. Tanneries that cannot obtain 
soft water can have the softness im- 
parted to it by infiltrating it through 
spent tan. For this purpose there is a 

and make the washer perfectly water-tight. The inside 
surface of the machine is set full of small wooden pins, 
one inch thick, about four inches long, and about four 
inches apart, for the purpose of catching the skins, raising 
them up, and, in falling, changes them in various positions. 
A six-inch wooden shaft placed through the center of the 
washer, set upon a frame erected for that purpose, with a 
cog-wheel and other gearing attached to it, so as to run 
the machine at the rate of twenty revolutions to the min- 


series of three vats charged similarly 
with spent tan, and, as the water which 
is poured into the first vat is drawn 
through a cock at the bottom, it is trans- 
ferred to the second, and, ultimately, to 
the third vat. In this manner all kinds 
of water may be rendered available for 
tanning, as, thus rectified, it contains a 
little tannin derived from the spent tan, 
which renders it particularly adapted 
for the early part of the tanning opera- 
tion. Experience certainly proves the 
superiority of some waters over others 
for tanning purposes, but on what par- 
ticular quality of the water this superi- 

ute. If the washer is allowed to run any faster it will 
not do the work so well. When skins are tanned suffi- 
ciently to be skived, they are taken from the tan liquor 
and subjected to the machine for a short time, which 
washes them out completely. After skiving, they are 
again placed in the washer for a short time, which much 
facilitates and hastens the process of tanning. 

Either of these machines will perform work much more 
rapidly and satisfactorily than any other machine now in 


ority depends I have not yet been able 
to determine. The safest course is to 
prefer those waters which contain the 
least soluble matter, particularly earthy 
matters, for they certainly reduce the 
tanning power of the ooze by combining 
with some of its constituents. 

existence, or than it was formerly done by the tedious and 
laborious processes practised in early days. The expense 
of building these machines is about thirty dollars each. 

In the foreground of the engraving is the representation 
of a railroad and truck car loaded with hides. This road 
and car is for the purpose of conveying stock through to 
the different parts and places in the tannery. This, how- 
ever, will be more fully explained hereafter. 


The second process to which hides 
are to be subjected is termed unhairing, 
and is that by which the pores are dis- 
tended, the fibres swollen, and the hair 
loosened. These results are effected by 
means of alkaline or acid solutions, and 
by fermentation. Milk of lime is the 

Beam House. — This room comes next to the apartment 
for washing and soaking the hides. The beam house is the 
grand starting point for the manufacture of good leather. 
It depends entirely upon this operation for facilitating and 
hastening the process of tanning. To secure this desirable 
result they must be perfectly cleaned, scraped, and rinsed 


alkaline liquor generally employed. 
Lime water has been proposed as a sub- 
stitute, but it is less permanent in its 
action and requires frequent renewal in 
order to insure the perfect cleansing of 
the hides. After the hides have been 
sufficiently soaked, or, in other words, 
sufficiently prepared to receive limes or 
to be unhaired, I then introduce Compo- 
sition No. 1 for the purpose of remov- 
ing hair or wool, or for the purpose of 
liming, as it is called, instead of using 
lime as in the old way. 

Lime has been used alone for the pur- 
pose of removing hair, wool, grease, 
mucus, and other impurities from the 
skins. Lime alone requires several 

before being allowed to enter the handling house for the 
action of the tanning liquor. My tannery is two hundred 
and forty feet in length and forty feet in width, with a 
railroad running through the center from one end to the 
other. The room or apartment occupied for soaking, 
softening, and washing the hides comes first, and the next 


days, and, in cold weather, weeks to 
effect these several objects ; so that the 
muscular fibre of the hides is always 
more or less injured. When the compo- 
sition is combined in proper proportions 
it modifies the action of the alkalies and 
protects the skins, so that the process of 
unhairing and liming are both rendered 
more expeditious, the hides are made 
much softer than by the old method of 
liming, their texture is uninjured, and, 
consequently, the leather is much 
stronger. The skins may be prepared 
for the bating and tanning processes 
after the usual method ; but I prefer 
and use the following ingredients, which 
I shall denominate — 

is the unhairing apartment. This latter operation and the 
apartment are represented by a wood engraving in front 
of this chapter. The center of the engraving represents 
a railroad, on which a truck car is coming in from the 
wash and soak room loaded with hides ready to receive 
the action of the lime. On the right end of the engraving 


Composition No. 1. 

This composition (No. 1) must be 
mixed in about the consistency of white- 
wash, with a sufficient quantity of water 
in the vat to immerse the number of 
hides proposed to be unhaired. The 
lime vats are placed along one side of 
the beam-house, each vat containing a 
paddle-wheel operating on the upper 
portion of the unhairing liquor, while 
the hides being handled are entirely 
loose and free in the vat, and move in 

is represented five lime vats, with paddle-wheels for the 
purpose of handling the hides and agitating the unhairing 
liquor. The first wheel is represented as being in full 
motion, stirring up the liquor in place of the old tedious 
method of handling by hand. These lime pits are eight 
feet long, five feet wide, and six feet deep, with a concave 


an opposite direction to that of the 
wheel. A gentle and yet effectual mo- 
tion is given to the skins and liquor by 
means of the wheel. When the compo- 
sition is prepared in the vat, the hides 
are thrown in and kept agitated at fre- 
quent intervals by running the wheels a 
few minutes at a time, say once every 
half hour, or once every two or three 
hours, as the case may require. This 
operation of unhairing the hides, and 
also the vats containing the wheels, are 
represented by a wood engraving in 
front of this chapter. 

Although the management of process 
No. 1 is the same as the usual method, 
the skins must be handled or agitated, 

bottom, for the purpose of making an easy revolution of 
the hides and liquor by the action of the wheels. These 
wheels are made in the form of the paddle-wheel used by 
steamboats, and are four and a half feet long, and five feet 
in diameter, or fifteen feet in circumference, each being 
geared independent of the other, with three cog-wheels, 


and closely attended to, as has been be- 
fore observed. This composition for 
unhairing may be conducted at a tem- 
perature of summer heat, and the object 
may be accomplished much sooner than 
by any other process. One bushel of 
No. 1 mixture is about equivalent to 
one and a half bushels of good fresh- 
slacked lime. 

The second ingredient may be substi- 
tuted by eight pounds of 

.., which will answer the 

same purpose. No. 1 process must be 
conducted with the greatest care and 
judgment, and should be kept at a mild 
temperature, and in a very short time 
the hides will be ready to unhair with- 

two large wheels, and one small one. The small wheel is 
attached to an iron shaft running over the top of the pad- 
dle-wheels, with an iron lever attached to the small wheel 
for the purpose of sliding a clutch, by which the workman 
can run any of the wheels at the same time. On the left 
end of the engraving are four workmen represented at 


out the least injury to the skins. After 
the hair is completely removed, the 
hides are put in the mill and milled a 
short time for the purpose of washing 
or cleaning them, which gives the skins 
thorough rinsing, and leaves them in a 
fine condition for the "bate or the tanning 
process. I will add, according to my 
experience in unhairing and tanning, 
there are certain drawbacks in the 
liming process, when limed in the old 
way, which are worthy of. enumeration. 
Firstly, The contact of caustic lime 
alters, more or less, the texture of the 
hide, and permits it to penetrate the 
pores, and remain in them in the state of 
caustic lime or lime soap. 

work, depriving the hides of their hair, standing upon a 
platform extending from the wall half over the pool, the 
whole platform being about ten feet wide, with the back 
end two feet higher than the front side, giving sufficient 
fall for the dirty water discharged from the skins to run 
off. The workman stands with his back to the pool, and 


Secondly, The repeated rinsings in 
water and workings only partially re- 
move the lime, which is a serious imped- 
iment to perfect tanning. 

Thirdly, It hinders the ready pene- 
tration of the tanning liquor, and the 
perfect combination of tannin with the 
skin, and so obstinately resists removal 
during all the manipulation that a por- 
tion of it is found even in the best of 
leather. Notwithstanding that my ex- 
perience is so opposed to the use of lime, 
the careful and elaborate experiments of 
Dr. Davy, chemist, show that its action 
upon animal textures generally is rather 
antiseptic than destructive. The disad- 
vantages of the use of lime have led to 

operates facing the light. la this position he can draw a 
hide from the pool and place it on the wooden horse, 
ready to be operated on, without moving from his truck, 
thus avoiding the old method of walking around the horse 
and drawing the hides up, which gives the workman double 
labor. After this manipulation is completed, the skins are 


the substitution of less objectionable 
agents, which are set forth in this chap- 
ter. The advantages derived to hides 
by these substitutions for unhairing are 
superior to any other process, according 
to my judgment, and is acknowledged 
to be a fixed fact by all those who have 
used it. The skins immersed in this 
liquor swell out considerably, and are 
ready to be scraped in a very short time. 
Moreover, the alkali forming soluble 
soap, with the fatty portions, facilitates 
the cleansing and produces a smoother 
grained side than is done in the common 
way. Hides thus prepared will imbibe 
the tanning liquor more rapidly, and the 
entire processes can be accomplished in 
one-third of the usual time. After this 

thrown upon the truck and taken to the fulling stocks and 
washer, and exposed to the action of those two machines 
for a short time. When thoroughly cleansed, they are- 
again placed upon the truck and carried to the handling- 
house for the action of the tanning ooze. 


mode of preparing the skins, they may- 
be subjected to the tanning without addi- 
tional process of bating, and there will 
be a firm, solid article produced. If the 
tanner wishes to make a soft, mild, and 
pliable leather, it must be subjected to 
the bate for a few hours, which will be 
set forth in the succeeding chapter. 



These leading manipulations are mod- 
ified to suit certain kinds of skins ; and 
some undergo an additional treatment, 
termed bating, to remove lime and 
otherwise promote the thorough union 
of the tan material and gelatinous 
structure. The bate consists of a liquor 
made from the dung of domestic fowls ; 
and immersions in this mixture remove 
the lime and reduce the skins to their 
original thickness. It acts by means of 
muriate of ammonia, which it contains. 


This salt is decomposed by the unhairing 
process, which drives off its base, the 
ammonia, and, taking up with the mu- 
riatic acid, then becomes soluble muriate 
of lime, and passes off with the rinse 
water. When limed in the old way 
with lime alone, it carries with it at the 
same time a portion of the gelatine, ren- 
dered soluble by putrefaction of the 
organic matter of the bate, which un- 
doubtedly occurs. If the hides are 
unhaired by the aid of composition 
No. 1, there will be no loss of gelatine in 
the application of the process ; for, by 
bating, it will be entirely preserved 
from all putrefaction. The bating pro- 
cess can be conducted at the temperature 
of summer heat. This, however, must 
be attended to with the greatest care 
and judgment on the part of the work- 
man, and will render the hides highly 
susceptible of being quickly tanned. 




Chemistry is that branch of natural 
knowledge which teaches us the proper- 
ties of the elementary substances, and 
of their mutual combinations. It in- 
quires into the laws which affect and 
into the powers which preside over their 
union ; it examines the proportions in 
which they combine and the modes of 
separating them when combined, and 
endeavors to apply such knowledge to 
the explication of natural phenomena 


and to useful purposes in the different 
arts of life. 

It is my intention, in this introductory 
chapter, to make a brief allusion to the 
style of these ingredients, used in this 
process for the manufacture of leather, 
when they are duly prepared in the 
proper proportions. The union of these 
ingredients with tannin facilitates the 
process of tanning, and produces the 
desired effect upon the article manu- 
factured. There are many vegetable 
substances containing a principle which 
confers upon them an astringent taste, 
and which has the property of forming 
a superior tanning liquor. 

Chemistry is that science which treats 
of those events or changes in natural 
bodies which are not accompanied by 
sensible motions. Most of the sub- 
stances belonging to our globe are con- 
stantly undergoing alterations in sensible 


qualities, and one variety of matter 
becomes, as it were, transmuted into 
another. Such changes, whether nat- 
ural or artificial, whether slowly or 
rapidly performed, are called chemical. 
Thus, the gradual and almost impercepti- 
ble decay of the leaves and branches of 
a fallen tree exposed to the atmosphere, 
and the rapid combustion of wood in 
our fires, are both chemical operations. 
The object of chemical philosophy is to 
ascertain the causes of all phenomena of 
this kind, and to discover the laws by 
which they are governed. As induc- 
tion from experiment is exclusively the 
basis of chemical science, little progress 
could be made in it till the futility of 
the ancient philosophical systems had 
been shown and their influence annihi- 
lated, till the true end of science was 
rightly defined and the road to it ren- 
dered straight and passable, till the 


necessity of well-digested experiment 
had been established, which first pro- 
cures the light, then shows the way by 
its means. The conversion of hides into 
leather is wholly a chemical process. 
Hides and skins may be converted into 
leather more perfectly by the combina- 
tion of those different chemicals, ingre- 
dients, and tanning liquors manufactured 
from oak barks. By this combination a 
greater amount of tannin is concentrated 
in a smaller quantity of materials, and 
much less labor is required than in the 
old method. These ingredients, when 
combined in proper proportions, make a 
superior tanning agent for the manufac- 
ture of all kinds of leather. This com- 
position consists of five different, distinct 
substances. In the succeeding chapter 
will be given a correct description of and 
the proper proportions for manufacturing 
and applying this composition to the 


hides. In the first place, as far as my 
knowledge will permit, I will endeavor 
to give the properties of the ingredients 
adapted to Composition No. 2, chapter 
viii., and their effects upon the hides and 
skins, and the purposes used for making 
the different kinds of leather. The tan- 
ner will observe that the ingredients are 
not all applied at the same time ; but let 
him use them as directed, and he will not 
fail to produce the desired article of 
leather. Those ingredients are employ ed 
at different intervals and at different 
stages of the process of tanning : 

Firstly, I use the first ingredient for 
the tanning properties it possesses. The 
tannin can be obtained from different 
sources. Its properties, however, differ 
materially in some of their character- 
istics. The tannin possessed by this 
article has superior tanning properties : 
one pound of it is equivalent to ten 



pounds of either oak or hemlock bark r 
besides containing pure tannin, and a 
small quantity of gallic acid and modified 
tannin, in the state which is generally 
designated by the name Extractive; 
and, lastly, a combination of tannin 
which is soluble in cold water, and more 
particularly in hot water, and produces 
a stronger liquor with the combination 
of chemicals, which unites dissimilar 
bodies into a uniform compound and 
makes a tanning liquor that cannot be 
surpassed. This article can be procured 
in abundance at the small price of from 
two to five dollars per one hundred 

Secondly, I used the second article for 


its brightening qualities. I do not, there- 
fore, use it for any tanning properties, 
for it contains no tannin. It gives the 
leather that very bright hue which we 
term bloom, which makes a very hand- 
some, durable, and saleable color. This 
ingredient is prepared on a large scale 
for calico printers. It has a cooling y 
saline, and bitter taste. When recently 
prepared it is beautifully transparent, 
but by exposure to the air it effloresces 
and the crystals become covered with an 
opaque white powder. By long ex- 
posure it undergoes complete efflores- 
cence, and falls to powder with the loss 
of more than one-half its weight. It is 
soluble in three times its weight of cold 
water, and in its own weight of boiling 
water, but insoluble in alcohol ; sub- 
jected to heat, it dissolves in its water of 
crystallization, then dries, and afterward, 
by the application of a red heat, melts, 


with the loss of fifty-five and a half per 
cent, of its weight. It has no injurious 
or offensive properties, for it was for- 
merly used as a medicine. At the pres- 
ent time, immense quantities of this 
article are manufactured in all parts of 
the world, and can be procured at the 
small cost of one cent per pound. 

Thirdly, I use the third article for 
the purpose herein set forth : it induces 
a more rapid action of the tannin upon 
the skin. This ingredient, when used in 
proper proportions, unites more forcibly, 
and adds materially to the quality of the 
leather, and makes it more pliant and 
durable, which is the great object in 

This article is largely manufactured in 
all parts of the world, and is used for 
various purposes. Its cost is about six 
cents per pound, and it dissolves readily 
in boiling water. 




Fourthly, The fourth ingredient is 
used for softening the hides, and expe- 
diting the process of unh airing, and 
rendering them more supple for the 
tanning process, and also for keeping the 
skins in a fine condition while the tanning 
is going on, by keeping the pores open 
for the tannin to penetrate through the 
network of the hide, thus forming leather 
more perfectly and expeditiously. If 
the skins are hard and harsh, the harsh- 
ness can "be removed by the use of this 
article. It may be used freely without 
injuring the hides, as I have found it of 


essential use in raising the skins in the 
tanning process, and preparing them 
without injury for speedy and safe 
tanning. This article is manufactured 
on a very large scale both in Europe 
and America, and is used for various 
purposes. It has no injurious or offens- 
ive properties, and can be procured in 
abundance at one and three-quarter 
cents per pound, and dissolves readily in 
boiling water. 

Fifthly, The fifth ingredient pos- 
sesses a small portion of tannin, and 
also possesses a sweetish, astringent 
taste. Care must be taken and not use 
too much at a time. When used too 
freely it gives the leather an olive hue, 
which is not a very desirable color. 
Its expanding properties are very great, 
and act freely upon the pores of the 
skin; therefore the proper proportions 
must be strictly observed, or the effects 


will undoubtedly be injurious to the 
leather. It dissolves in fourteen times 
its weight in cold water, and in its 
own weight of boiling water. It is 
manufactured in almost all parts of the 
world, and is used for various purposes, 
and can be obtained at two and a half 
cents per pound. 

There are many other ingredients of 
similar properties that will answer very 
nearly the same purpose ; but, upon 
experimenting with various kinds of 
chemicals, I could not find any that 
would answer for the tanning of leather 
but those I have adopted, and they 
answer the purpose in every respect. 
The reader will observe that the names 
of the ingredients are not given in this 
chapter, but they will be designated by 
being numbered in this and also in the 
succeeding chapters. 



This process is applicable to the tan- 
ning of all kinds of hides, and to making 
the different kinds of leather. 

The proper proportions of the ingre- 
dients must be strictly observed in all 
cases. In preparing the following ma- 
terials, the operator should use scales, 
and weigh them out correctly, as repre- 
sented by the wood engraving in front 
of this chapter. Caution should always 
be observed to have the proper prep- 
arations. I will here give the correct 


proportions of the materials for the tan- 
ning of one hundred common-sized calf- 
skins, or any other like skins. The 
example of tanning the above skins will 
be given hereafter. In mixing these 
articles, the operator must be careful 
that he has the correct proportions, as it 
will depend entirely upon the manage- 
ment and skill of the workman in pre- 
paring these ingredients to produce a 
superior quality of leather, which will, 
undoubtedly, be the case when the pro- 
cess is correctly managed. 

Composition No. 2. 
1st, lbs. 

2d, lbs. 

3d, lbs. 

4th, lbs. 

5th, lbs. 


The ingredients of number one nmst 
be dissolved, separately, in hot water; 
or, hot bark-liquor is preferable. After 
they are dissolved, put them into a vat 
or tub, or whatever it may be. If the 
liquor is not sufficient to cover the 
amount of skins proposed to be tanned, 
bark liquor may be used to fill up the 
vat or tub, to make the liquor cover the 
hides. There should, in all cases, be suf- 
ficient in, but not so as to lie crowded or 
in a compact state. The skins must have 
a sufficient quantity of liquor on them, so 
as to lie loose, and let the tannin have a 
chance to search through the network and 
fibres of the skins, which is one of the 
most important parts of tanning. When 
they are once plumped, we ought, at 
least, to keep them in that state, and 
allow them to come in contact with the 
tannin gradually, as they are frequently 
handled or agitated in the liquor. The 


spent liquor or water that remains in the 
pores of the hides, which has caused 
them to plump, by filling up every pore 
and cavity among the fibres of the 
skins, will retain its place, and will keep 
them in fine condition, just as they 
should be, until it is forced to give way 
to the tannin, which takes the place of 
the spent liquor, and gradually unites 
with the gelatin and forms leather. 
Hides should be handled in cold, weak 
liquor, particularly the first application 
of the skin to the liquor, for a day or 
two. The effects of the first application 
of liquor that is too strong, and too 
warm, to green hides is very injurious. 
It contracts the surface fibres of the 
skin, tanning at once the external layers 
so dead as to shut up the pores and pre- 
vent the tannin from penetrating the 
interior portions of the hide. This ren- 
ders the leather harsh and brittle. The 



liquor should also be kept as cool as 
possible, with certain limits, but ought 
never to exceed a temperature of eighty 
degrees ; in fact, a much lower tempera- 
ture is the maximum point, if the liquor 
is very strong ; too high a heat with a 
liquor too strongly charged with the 
tanning principle, being invariably in- 
jurious to the life and color of the 
leather. The first application of the 
liquor should not exceed, in strength, 

Hydrometer. — A Hydrometer is a conven- 
ient apparatus for ascertaining readily the 
density or strength of liquors. That refer- 
red to above has been styled by its maker 
(W. Pike, of the city of New York), a Bark- 
ometer, because it is specially adapted to 
testing the strength of bark liquors. Its form 
and the manner of using it are represented 
by a small wood-engraving on this page ; and 
it is made wholly of glass; a, d, being the 
stem, inclosing a graduated paper scale ; B, 
a spherical bubble ; and C, a small bubble 
at its base, containing quicksilver or shot, 
which serves as ballast to retain the instru- 
ment in a vertical position in the liquid. 
The scale on the stem is equally divided into 


more than one or two per cent, by W. 
Pike's Barkometer, which is specially 
adapted to testing the strength of bark 
liquors. Strong liquor must invariably 
be avoided in the first application. On 
the other hand, a too weak solution, in 
the latter stage of tanning, must be 
avoided. In the latter stage, the liquor 
may be used as strong as it can be made, 
without injury to the leather. I have 
used it as high as fifty per cent. The 
weight, in leather, is made by keeping it 
in good strong liquor, and giving it 
close attention. In order to produce 
heavy weights, the hides should not be 
reduced too low in the beam-house, and 
should be tanned quickly, with good 

five or ten wide spaces, and each of these again subdivided 
into ten narrow spaces; the zero point of the scale is 
made by plunging the instrument into distilled water, at 
58 degrees F., and adding mercury to the bubble until it 
sinks to nearly the top of the stem a. A solution of ten 
parts of bark in ninety parts of distilled water having 


strong liquors, particularly in the latter 
stage of the operation ; green hides in 
particular. Nothing can "be more in- 
jurious than to suffer them to remain 
too long in weak liquors. It will, from 
this, be seen that in the question of the 
proper strength of liquors alone, there is 
room for the exercise of the greatest 
judgment and the most extensive experi- 
ence. In very many cases, nothing can 
be depended upon but the judgment of 
the practical tanner. In softening hides 
and preparing them for the process of 
tanning, a great deal also depends upon 
the judgment of the person superintend- 
ing this operation; inasmuch as the 
diversities in the qualities and charac- 

been made, the hydrometer is then plunged in the liquor, 
and the point to which it sinks therein, say 6, is cai etully 
and accurately marked upon the scale, and rated as 10 
compared with the zero point. Each of the grand divi- 
sions, consequently, represents ten per cent, of bark, and 
each of the smaller ones, or subdivisions, corresponds with 


teristics of the hides render it impossi- 
ble to subject them to anything more 
than a general mode of treatment. As 
a general rule, the milder the process of 
preparing the hides for the liquor the 
better. Unnecessarily severe or pro- 
longed treatment is inevitably attended 
with a loss of gelatin, and, consequently, 
with a loss of weight and strength in 
the leather. Skins should be handled 
in weak liquor at first ; then increase 
the strength of the tanning liquor, and 
keep up the strength of it, and handle 
regularly, and of course the hides re- 
quire less and less handling, as the pro- 
cess of tanning progresses — for the more 
they become tanned, the slower will 

one per cent, of bark. It is very easj, therefore, after 
having determined the length of the stem from zero, which 
sinks in a normal solution of bark, to apportion the rest of 
it with the aid of a pair of dividers; so that every inter- 
val thus apportioned, shall be equal to that fixed by ex- 
periment. When, therefore, this instrument sinks into a 


they receive the liquor ; the hides that 
are intended for sole leather, when han- 
dled a short time, in weak liquor, should 
be laid down alternately in the vat, with 
layers of bark between each and every 
hide. (For example, see Chapter XI.) 

When sole leather has been laid away 
for ten or fifteen days, the liquor should 
be let off, and a good strong liquor pre- 
pared and poured into the vat, without 
moving the hides, and let it remain until 
exhausted. The liquor should be renewed 
in like manner until the stock is com- 
pletely tanned. The first liquor can be 
applied to a succeeding pack, and so on 
until the strength of the liquor is en- 
tirely exhausted. 

bark liquor to twenty degrees, thirty, or any other de- 
gree, the number indicates the percentage of tanning 
force. It is necessary to observe that this instrument is 
applicable only to freshly-made liquors ; for otherwise, 
confusion and want of confidence might ensue upon find- 
ing that it sinks, sometimes, to a corresponding degree in 


The light stock, such as calf, sheep, 
and other like skins, need not be laid 
away. (For example, see Chap. IX.) 

After the tannery "becomes thoroughly 
impregnated with chemicals, it can be 
kept up with half the expense and 
trouble, and the tanner will see a great 
change in his leather, both in time and 
quality. No tanner should do without 
this process, if he looks to his own inter- 
est, which every tanner should do. If 
the stock is to be tanned out in a given 
time, it must be accomplished by man- 
agement, care, attention, and strength of 
the liquor. It is my opinion that no 
practical tanner can fail in his appointed 
time for the completion of the work, if 
he closely follows the direction. 

spent liquor. This is owing to the fact that the alterations 
which tanning liquors undergo during use and exposure, 
may not diminish their density, though they impair and 
destroy their tanning power. 



The tanning of calf-skins is conducted 
about the same way as small cow-hides, 
or any other kind of hides. In the first 
place, the skins are subjected to a 
preparation liquor for the purpose of 
giving them a clear, bright color, and a 
good grain, and also for opening their 
pores and preparing them for the tannin. 
By this preparation mixture the skins 
can be colored and grained beautifully 
in the space of three hours. This mix- 
ture, however, need not be used in 


tanning regularly ; only when you wish 
to color and grain the stock in a short 
time. It is more adapted to experiment- 
ing than regular tanning, although it is 
useful in tanning; but many tanners 
would think it rather troublesome to 
prepare. I procured one hundred com- 
mon-sized calf-skins from the bate, un- 
haired and free of lime, and prepared 
a coloring and graining liquor of the 
following ingredients, which I shall 
denominate — 

Preparation Liquor for Coloring and 
Graining the Skins. 

1st, lbs. __ 

2d, lbs. ..... 

3d, lbs 

4th, lbs 

5th, lbs. .-- 

I dissolve the first, second, and third 


ingredients in hot water ; then put the 
fifth ingredient in an earthen vessel — a 
crock — and put a little hot water in it ; 
and then put the fourth ingredient in 
the latter vessel, and let them remain 
together until all were dissolved. After 
they were dissolved, which did not take 
more than ten minutes, I poured all the 
dissolved ingredients together into a 
vat, and put in a sufficient quantity of 
weak bark liquor to cover the amount 
of skins proposed to be tanned, then 
threw the skins into the preparation 
mixture. I handled them frequently for 
six hours. The same work has been 
accomplished in my tannery in the short' 
period of three hours. At the expira- 
tion of the sixth hour the skins were 
removed out of the preparation mixture, 
completely colored and very handsomely 
grained. I then made a tanning liquor 

which I shall denominate — 



(The ingredients in the following com- 
positions will be recognized by numbers 
corresponding with those in Composition 
No. 2, Chapter VIII.)— 

Composition No. 1. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

I dissolved these ingredients in hot 
water. After they were dissolved, 
(which took about ten minutes,) I 
poured them into a vat, and run in a 
small quantity of bark liquor, enough 
to make it cover the skins, and then 
threw the skins in, and let them remain 
in this Composition number one for 
twenty-four hours. The wheel was run 
about five minutes every half hour 
during the first day. At the expiration 
of the twenty-four hours, the skins were 


removed from Composition number one, 
and a new liquor prepared of the fol- 
lowing ingredients, which I shall denom- 
inate — 

Composition No. 2. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

These ingredients were dissolved the 
same as member one / and I added this 
Composition number two to number one, 
and strengthened it up. The liquor was 
well plunged up ; then the skins were 
put in this composition for twenty-four 
hours ; the wheel was run once every 
hour during the second day, about five 
minutes at a time. They may be 
handled by hand in the same way that 
many tanners handle their stock, which 
will answer a very good purpose for 


this process ; but I prefer and use the 
wheel in all my handlings. In many tan 
neries they handle all their stock by 
hand, which is undoubtedly tedious, 
laborious, and very expensive; and, 
according to my judgment and expe- 
rience, the leather is not as good and 
pliable as when handled by the wheels. 
The representation of tanning the afore- 
said one hundred skins is shown by the 
wood engraving in front of this chapter. 
After the expiration of the second 
twenty-four hours, the skins were re- 
moved, and a new liquor made, which I 
shall denominate — 

Composition No. 3. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 4th ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 


These ingredients I dissolved in hot 
bark liquor, then threw them all into 
the vat, as usual, and put in a sufficient 
quantity of middling good bark liquor 
to make it cover the skins. The liquor 
was well plunged up; the skins were 
thrown in and left remaining in Compo- 
sition number three for forty-eight hours. 
The wheel was run about five minutes- 
every two hours during the two days. 
At the expiration of that time I made a 
new liquor, and added it to number 
three, which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 4. 

_.. lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

- lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

I dissolved these ingredients in the 
same way as number three. The skins 



were removed out of number three, and 
Composition number four added to num- 
ber three, and plunged well up together ; 
then the skins were put in, and kept in 
this liquor for two days. They were 
handled about three or four times each 
day during that time. At the end of 
the second day I had the skins taken out 
and green-shaved, which prepared them 
for the reception of the tan more freely 
than before; after which I prepared a 
new liquor of the following ingredients, 
which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 5. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

These ingredients I dissolved as usual, 
and put them in the vat, and added a 
sufficient quantity of good strong bark 



liquor, and plunged it well together; 
then put the skins in and let them 
remain in this liquor two days. They 
were handled about three or four times 
each day during that period. At the 
expiration of the two days, I had the 
skins removed and the liquor cast away. 
I then prepared a new liquor, which I 
shall denominate— 

Composition No. 6. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient, 

._ _ lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

I dissolved these ingredients as usual ; 
then threw them all together into the 
vat, and run in a sufficient quantity of 
good strong bark liquor, plunged it up 
well, and then put the skins in, and let 
them remain in this composition three 


days. They were handled about twice 
each day during that period. At the 
expiration of the three days, the skins 
were taken out perfectly tanned. The 
oiling, stuffing, blackening, and finishing 
is conducted in the same manner as 
when tanned in the old way. The skins 
tanned by this process possess different 
advantages over those tanned by the 
old method. They are finer, more plia- 
ble and durable, and more impervious 
to moisture, and, when handsomely fin- 
ished, are equal to French calf-leather. 





The tanning of hides foi; the manu- 
facture of patent leather is conducted in 
the same way as the tanning of other 

Handling-House. — The handling-house is the next place 
of operating upon the hides after they have been suffi- 
ciently prepared in the beam-house ; for the manufacture 
of good leather a great deal depends upon the manipula- 
tion of preparing the hides in the. beam-house. They 
should be well prepared before they are permitted to enter 
the handling-room for the action of the tanning principles. 
After the hides are deprived of their hair, and properly 
softened and rinsed in the beam-house, they are piled upon 
a truck car, and conveyed to the handling-house, and sub- 
jected to a weak solution of tanning liquor in vats, that 
are furnished with paddle-wheels for handling the hides 


kinds of leather, with a little exception 
in the management of the tanning. This 
leather, known in commerce as patent 
leather, is very largely used for dress 
boots and shoes, and for fancy mount- 
ings. There are various methods of 
manufacturing it. I will here give an 
example of tanning thirty large ox-hides 
for japanning and enameling purposes. 
After they are unhaired and free of 
lime, or, in other words, well prepared 
for the tanner, we will subject the hides 
to the following composition, which I 

and agitating the tanning liquors. The handling-house, 
as it is in Clinton tannery, is represented by a wood 
engraving in front of this chapter. A full view of this 
room is given by the illustration. The handling depart- 
ment occupies 26 feet in length by 40 in width ; the 
right end of the engraving represents 5 vats, which are 8 
feet long, 4 feet wide, and 6 feet deep — equivalent to 
960 cubic feet of tanning room. Each of the vats is 
furnished with a revolving paddle-wheel ; the wheels are 
3 feet and 10 inches in length, and 5| feet in diameter, or 
17 feet in circumference; each wheel contains 11 pad- 
dles, 1 inch thick and 15 inches wide, and placed over the 


shall denominate (see corresponding 
number, in Composition number two, 
Chapter VIII.)— 

Composition No. 1. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 4th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients in' hot 
water or hot bark liquor, whichever is 
the most convenient. After they are 

center of the vat, so that the wheel dips 13 inches in the 
liquor ; and the gearing is arranged to run the wheel at 
the rate of 18 revolutions to the minute. The center 
wheel is represented as in full motion: if they are permitted 
to run any faster they will not perform the work so well. 
The left end of the engraving represents 3 vats, which are 
8 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 6 feet in depth — equivalent to 
1008 cubic feet of tanning room; each vat is furnished 
with a handling-wheel, 6 feet 10 inches in length and 5| 
feet in diameter, and placed on the vat the same as stated 
before. The first wheel is represented as being in motion. 
The illustration shows that each wheel is geared inde- 


dissolved, pour them all together into 
the vat, and run in a sufficient quantity 
of weak bark liquor. Plunge it well 
up, and then throw in the hides. If the 
vat has a wheel in it, it should be run 
about five minutes every half-hour for 
the first day. I would let them remain 
in this liquor twenty-four hours. If the 
handler has no wheel in it, the hides 
must be handled up frequently the first 
day. At the expiration of the twenty- 
four hours, the stock must be removed, 

pendent of each other by 3 cog-wheels, 1 small cog-wheel 
attached to an iron shaft running parallel over the top of 
the handling-wheels, with a pulley attached to the one 
end of it, and is forced around by a belt from the main 
shaft, running over head through the center of the tan- 
nery. By this main shaft all the works in the tannery are 
run. You will observe that a belt, running from this 
main shaft, is attached to a pulley connected with the 
pumps. The pump on the left side supplies the tannery 
with new liquors. The liquor is let off in the leaches, 
and runs unto this junk, to be pumped into the tan pits 
when required. The pump on the right side is used for 
pumping the old. liquors up into the third story, and run 
into the leaches ; it is first let off in the tan pit, and car- 


and a new liquor prepared, which I shall 
denominate — 

Composition No. 2. 

_ lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

., lbs. of the 4th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual, 
and pour them all together into the vat, 
and run in a sufficient quantity of bark 
liquor to cover the hides. Plunge it 

ried into the junks by pipes or conductors, and then 
pumped into other vats or into the leaches for the manu- 
facture of new liquors. The center of the engraving 
represents several workmen operating, and one man 
fetching a load of hides in, upon a truck-car, from the 
beam-house, ready for the action of the tanning ooze. 
The first application of the hides should be to a weak 
solution of tannin. No definite length of time can be 
fixed upon for running the wheels. If the hides are sub- 
jected to a liquor containing one percent, of tannin, they 
should be run often at first ; if the liquor is weak, they 
need not be run so often. The wheels should never be 


well, and then throw in the stock and 
let it remain in this composition two 
days, and handle frequently each day. 
At the end of the two days, remove the 
hides and prepare a new liquor of the 
following proportions, which I shall 
denominate — 

Composition No. 3. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 4th ingredient. 

allowed to run longer than 5 minutes at a time (less will 
do) ; they should be run once every half-hour, or once 
every 1 or 2 hours, as the case may require. The wheel 
must be geared for the face of it to move at the rate 
of 18 revolutions to the minute. Cog gearing has a de- 
cided advantage over belting, as the motion required is so 
slow that belts are often found troublesome. The motion 
wanted is slow and steady, which can be best had with 
gearing. It will be observed that a belt drives the shaft 
running lengthwise over the top of the paddle-wheels; 
and that each wheel is furnished with a pair of cog-wheels, 
and a pinion on the shaft above (which is loose), and is 


Dissolve these ingredients the same as 
in the preceding compositions. After 
they are dissolved, pour them all 
together into the handler, and run in 
a sufficient quantity of bark liquor ; 
plunge it well together, and throw in 
the stock, and let it remain in this 
liquor two days. Keep it well handled 
during that time. At the expiration 
of the two days, remove the hides 
and prepare a new liquor, which I shall 
denominate — 

caught with a clutch, forced in or out with a small iron 
lever. These wheels are, of course, independent of each 
other. The pair of iron pulleys on the end of this shaft 
should be 24 inches diameter, and 6-inch turned face ; the 
cog-wheels 24 to 26 inches diameter, 2|-inch face of cog, 
with pinion one-fourth the size. The shaft is, therefore, 
moving 4 times as fast as the paddle-wheels. It is seldom 
necessary to run more than 1 or 2 wheels at the same 
time ; therefore a large number of wheels may be thus 
geared to the same driving shaft, and with but one belt 
for the whole number. It will also be observed that they 
are plain paddle-wheels, operating on the upper portion 


Composition No. 4. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 4th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual,, 
and pour them into the handler, and run 
in a sufficient quantity of bark liquor ; 
plunge it well, and then throw in the 
stock, and let it remain in this composi- 
tion two days. If well fed and properly 

of the liquor, while the stock being handled is in the vats, 
entirely loose and free, and moves in an opposite direction 
to that of the wheels. A gentle and yet effectual motion 
is given to the stock and liquor by means of the wheel, 
and a semi-circular (or semi-elliptical lengthwise) false 
bottom placed in the vats. This false bottom should be 
made with slats of inch-boards, 5 or 6 inches wide, an 
placed across the vats horizontally, and left about half an 
inch apart, so that the liquor under the slats, in the cor- 
ners of the vats, will circulate among the hides, and so 
that the liquor may be drawn off while the stock remains 
in the vat. The wheel is placed across and over the cen- 


managed, by this time it will be ready 
for splittiDg. 


The leather is sometimes prepared for 
splitting by being only partially dried. 
Hides that are intended for japanning 
and enameling purposes are generally 
split before they are wholly tanned, as 

ter of the vat, and, when put in motion, will cause the 
stock to move up in front, pass under the wheel, and down 
on the back end of the vat, by the action of the floats of 
the handler; and a portion of the liquor urged by the 
motion against the slats at one end of the vat, finds its 
way between them and rises again between the slats of 
the opposite end, thus maintaining a constant circulation 
of the liquor throughout the vat. These handlers may 
be advantageously used for liming and bating, as well as 
tanning. The serai-cylindrical false bottom of slats, rest- 
ing on the bottom of the vat, is an inch thick and 18 inches 
wide, the center of which is in the center of the vat, 


the quality of the leather is thought to 
be improved by finishing the tanning 
after they have been thinned or divided 
by the machine. 

After the hides are split, I would sub- 
ject them to the following composition, 
which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 5. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

..lbs. of the 4th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual, 

planed on the upper side, and nailed to the vat ; another 
piece is prepared with feather-edge slats, and nailed to the 
end of the vat, about half the wa} T between the bottom 
and the top. The remainder of the false bottom is made 
in two parts, with slats placed half an inch apart, and with 
a space of about half an inch between each end and the 
sides of the vat. The lower part is fastened to the board 
with leather hinges, the upper part fastened to the end 
with a button. This arrangement is made that the vat 
may be cleaned when required. Care must be taken to 
have the false bottom, when in the vat, level. The vats 
may be three-fourths, or less, as deep as they are long, — 


and pour them into the vat all together, 
and run in a sufficient quantity of bark 
liquor to cover the stock ; plunge it well 
up, and then throw in the splits, and let 
them remain in this composition two or 
three days. Handle them often during 
that time. 

If a soft, mild substance of leather is 
wanted, use the fifth ingredient freely. 
The second and fourth ingredients must 
not be used in this part of the tanning. 
At the expiration of the above time the 

the lower part of the semi-cylinder, or false bottom of the 
slats, resting on or near the bottom of the vat. The false 
bottom should be made a half-circle, or a half-ellipsis: 
lengthwise, and formed with slats of inch boards, about & 
inches wide, and placed in the vats horizontally, half an 
inch apart. The wheel should be two-thirds as large in 
diameter as is the diameter of the cylindrical bottom or 
the length- of the vat. A vat 8 feet long may be 6 feet, or 
less, deep ; and the wheel 5 feet 4 inches diameter ; the 
diameter of the half-circle in the vat being 8 feet. A 
wheel of this size should have 10 paddles, as they should 
be about 18 inches apart on the outside of the wheel. Let 
the wheel be placed directly over the center of the vat, and 


stock must be removed, and a new liquor 
prepared, which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 6. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 4th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual, 
and pour them into the handler all 
together, and run in a sufficient quantity 
of bark liquor ; plunge it well, and then 
throw in the stock. Let it remain in 

the ends of the wheel must work within three-quarters of 
an inch of the side. The paddles should be made as wide 
as the wheel is intended to work in the vat; that will be 
about 2 inches wider than they are intended to be in the 
liquor. The wheel must dip down 2 inches more than one- 
fifth part of the depth of the vat after the false bottom is 
in. It is the most simple, effectual, and scientific mode of 
moving the leather in the liquor, and does away entirely 
with the necessity of handling by hand, facilitates the pro- 
cess of tanning to an astonishing degree, saves a great 
amount of labor, forms a handsome grain, and in all 
respects improves the quality and texture of the leather. 


this composition until it is tanned ; or, if 
this is not sufficient to tan it out, give 
them another liquor of the same kind, 
and tan them out. Leather tanned by 
this process, for japanning and enameling 
purposes, need not be subjected to the 
additional process of sumaching. The 
stock tanned by this process is whiter 
and brighter than any other tannage, 
and is more beautiful, finer, and more 



The tanning of sole-leather by this 
process is conducted nearly in the same 
way as tanning with Spanish oak bark : 
only the tanning can be perfected in 
about one-fourth of the usual time, and 
at about half the expense, compared 
with the old method of tanning. Take 
twenty-five hides and prepare them for 
the tannin. In preparing, they are split 
or cut in half along the back, in a line 
from the head to the tail, making fifty 
sides. After having been well prepared 


for the tannin, I would subject them to 
the following composition, which I shall 
denominate — 

(N. B. — The ingredients are recog- 
nized in the following compositions by 
numbers corresponding with those of 
Composition number one, Chapter VIII.) 

Composition No. 1. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 4th ingredient. 

lb. of the 5 th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients in hot water 
or hot bark liquor. After they are dis- 
solved, pour them all together in a vat, 
and run in a sufficient quantity of the 
fifth run of bark liquor to make the 
liquor cover the amount of stock pro- 
posed to be tanned. Plunge the liquor 


up well, and then throw in the sides ; let 
them remain in this liquor for two days. 
They should be handled once every 
hour during this time. On the first 
application of a hide to the ooze, I gen- 
erally run the wheels once every half- 
hour, say about lave minutes at a time, 
in order to keep the liquor and stock 
well agitated. At the expiration of two 
days, remove the stock and cast off the 
liquor. Then prepare a new liquor of 
the following proportions of ingredients, 
which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 2. 

- --- lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

- - - -- lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

- - lbs. of the 3d ingredient, 

- lbs. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients the same as 
before. After they are dissolved, pour 



them all together into the vat, and use a 
sufficient quantity of the fourth run of 
bark liquor to cover the stock in the 
vat ; then throw in the sides, and let 
them remain in this liquor two days. 
They must be handled six or eight times 
each day during the two days. The 
first day, the wheel should be run about 
five minutes every hour ; and about ^ve 
minutes every two hours the second day. 
At the end of this period the stock must 
be removed, and a new liquor made of 
the following proportions of ingredients, 
which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 3. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

„ lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 
lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients in hot 


water or hot bark liquor, whichever is 
most convenient. After they are dis- 
solved, put them all together in the vat ; 
then fill the vat with third and half run 
of bark liquor ; plunge it up well, then 
throw in the sides, and let them remain 
in this liquor for three days ; handle 
about five times each day. At the end 
of the third day, the stock must be 
removed into a stronger liquor. The 
liquor of number three can be used for a 
succeeding pack, and a new liquor made 
of the following proportions for the first 
pack, which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 4. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as before 


described. When they are dissolved, 
put them all together in the vat; fill 
the vat with the third run of bark 
liquor ; then throw in the sides, and let 
them remain in this liquor three days. 
Handle about four or five times each 
day. While the stock is green, it 
requires more attention than when 
nearly or about tanned. When about 
this stage, it absorbs the tannin very 
fast, and, consequently, requires more 
attention. Every tanner knows (if he 
don't, he should,) that when stock be- 
comes nearly tanned it receives the 
tannin much slower than when in a 
green state. The liquor should never 
be allowed to remain on the stock after 
its strength is exhausted, for it will do 
more damage in one day than can be 
made up in four. At the end of the 
third day remove' the sides. Use the 
old liquor for a pack not so far advanced, 


and make a new liquor, which I shall 
denominate — 

Composition No. 5. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as is done 
in the preceding compositions. When 
they are dissolved, pour them all to- 
gether into the vat, and run in a suffi- 
cient quantity of the second run of bark 
liquor. Plunge it well together, then 
throw in the stock, and let it remain in 
this liquor four days. Handle three or 
four times each day during that period. 
At the expiration of this time remove 
the sides ; use the old liquor for a suc- 
ceeding pack, and make a liquor, which 
I shall denominate — 



Composition No. 6. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients in hot 
water or hot bark liquor. After they 
are dissolved, pour them all together 
into the vat ; then run in a small quan- 
tity of the first and half run of bark 
liquor, and plunge it up well ; and then 
lay the sides down spread out, lying or 
extending lengthwise of the vat, with 
dusters of fine ground bark between 
every side (what tanners generally term 
laying away), and let them lie in that 
condition four days without being moved 
or touched. A representation of laying 
down sides of leather alternately in a 
vat (what tanners generally term laying 
away) is shown by the wood engraving 


in front of this chapter. At the ex- 
piration of the four days, remove the 
stock. Use the old liquor for a pack 
not so far advanced in the tanning, and 
make a new liquor of the following 
proportions of ingredients, which I shall 
denominate — 

Composition No. 7. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients the same as 
the preceding composition. After they 
are dissolved, pour them all together 
into the vat, and run in a sufficient quan- 
tity of the first run of bark liquor ; then 
plunge it well together; and then lay 
the sides down with dusters, as de- 
scribed in Composition number six, and 
let them lie in that position iive days. 


In some tanneries they hang their stock 
across the middle of the side, in the vats, 
on slats running across the vat, with the 
butt and head down, — which is just as 
good for some kinds of stock as laying 
away. These ingredients may be used 
in the same way for hanging the stock 
in the vats, as for laying away, with the 
exception of using the ground bark 
when the sides are hung in the vats. 
The liquor must be kept up as the tan- 
ning advances. The liquor should be 
renewed seasonably, and its strength 
increased in a ratio proportionate to each 
stage of tanning. When five days ex= 
pire, remove the sides, and prepare a new 
liquor, which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 8. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 


Dissolve these ingredients in the same 
way as the former. After they are dis- 
solved, pour them into the vat all 
together, and run in a sufficient quantity 
of very strong bark liquor ; then plunge 
well up, and lay the stock down with 
dusters, as usual. Let them remain in 
that condition six days without being 
disturbed; at the end of the six days 
remove the sides. Use the old liquor 
for a succeeding pack, and prepare a 
new liquor of the following ingredients, 
which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 9. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients the same as 
in the preceding compositions. When 


they are dissolved, pour them all to- 
gether into the vat ; then run in a 
sufficient quantity of real strong bark 
liquor, and plunge it well up ; then lay 
the sides down with dusters, as usual, 
and let them lie in that position seven 
days; at the expiration of that period 
take the stock up again, and prepare a 
new liquor, which I shall denominate — 

Composition No. 10. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lb. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual. 
After they are dissolved, pour them into 
the vat, and run in a sufficient quantity 
of real strong bark liquor ; plunge well 
up ; then lay the sides down with 
dusters of bark, as usual, and let them 


lie in that position eight days. At the 
expiration of that period, raise the stock 
out. Use the old liquor for a succeeding 
pack, and prepare a new liquor of the 
following ingredients, which I shall 
denominate — 

Composition No. 11. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual, 
and pour thern into the vat; run in a 
sufficient quantity of real strong bark 
liquor; plunge it well; then lay down 
the stock with dusters, as usual, and let 
it remain in that condition nine days. 
At the expiration of that period remove 
the sides, and prepare a new liquor, 
which I shall denominate — 


Composition No. 12. 

lbs. of the 1st ingredient. 

lbs. of the 2d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 3d ingredient. 

lbs. of the 5th ingredient. 

Dissolve these ingredients as usual. 
After they are dissolved, pour them into 
the vat, and run in a sufficient quantity 
of bark liquor, as strong as it can be 
made. Plunge it well up, so that it will 
make a liquor about forty per cent, 
strong. Then lay the stock down in the 
vat, with dusters of fine /ground bark 
between every side, and let them lie in 
that position ten days. This will make 
sixty-three days. The heaviest stock 
can be tanned in sixty days. I have 
frequently tanned sole-leather in forty 
days by the judicious use of strong 
liquors. Leather can be made as good 
in forty days as it can in twelve months. 


Leather tanned in forty days is much 
heavier than that in the long tanning. 
When these ingredients are dissolved in 
good, hot, soft water, and mixed with 
good bark liquor, they will make a 
superior tanning agent, whose active 
principles are very soluble. By being 
gradually extracted, they will pene- 
trate uniformly the whole of the ani- 
mal fibres, instead of acting chiefly upon 
the surface, and will make a heavy, 
solid article of leather. In fact, one 
hundred pounds of dry hides, quickly 
tanned in good liquor made with this 
combination, will produce about one 
hundred and sixty-five pounds of sole- 
leather; while one hundred pounds of 
dry hides, slowly tanned in the old way, 
with bark liquor, produce only one hun- 
dred and forty-three pounds. The addi- 
tional twenty-two pounds' weight in the 
quick tanning serve materially to swell 



the tanner's bill. At the end of ten 
days the stock may be taken out per- 
fectly tanned, and, in less than three 
months, it may be finished and in 



Cueriek. — The word currier means a 
dresser of leather. The derivation of 
the word currier is from the Latin, — the 
term for skin "being corium. Both the 
ancients and the moderns have under- 
stood currying as the preparation of 
tanned skins for the purpose of impart- 
ing to them the necessary smoothness, 
color, lustre, and suppleness. Curried 
leather receives different designations, 
according to the modes of dressing it 
which are employed, — as tallowed 


leather, waxed leather, oiled leather, 
grained leather, and fair leather, &c. 

The first operation of the currier is 
that of dipping the leather or softening 
it. For this purpose the skins are de- 
posited in a tub containing water, stand- 
ing alongside of the table, in which they 
are allowed to remain until they become 
sufficiently moist ; or else they are 
sprinkled with water from a brush or 
broom, which is a much less effectual 

Shaving is the first operation of the 
currier. After dipping and softening 
the skins, they must be pared or shaved 
with a curry ing-kmfe for the purpose of 
securing uniformity of thickness and 
regularity of surface. When, however, 
the leather presents many weak and thin 
parts, this operation may sometimes be 
dispensed with or postponed until these 
have been filled up by the action of the 


stretching-iron. While preferences are 
given in different places to other modes 
of working some kinds of leather, all 
kinds, indifferently, are shaved by the 
currier. In some tanneries the skins are 
taken from the tan-pit, when about two- 
thirds tanned and shaved, to reduce the 
thick parts and let the tannin penetrate 
the skin uniformly. It is termed by 
some pating, and by others skiving. 
This operation, however, is dispensed 
with in many tanneries. The general 
plan or method of currying and dressing 
leather is about the same in principle, 
as in all countries they use oil, tallow, 
and labor, to make the leather suitable 
for the different manufactures to which 
it may be applied. The state of the 
leather at the time of their application has 
much to do with its quality and general 
appearance when the process of currying 
is completed. In many parts of Europe 



they want the leather perfectly saturated 
with oil, which they believe makes it 
more durable in wear. In France, they 
want a fine, light, soft, and mild article 
of leather, but not so deeply saturated 
with oil as to darken its color. In JEng- 
land, the public want a stout, heavy, 
solid article, no matter what the cost 
may be, as they find it cheaper in the 
end. In this country, we have a blend- 
ing together of the whole, as our ruling 
principle is to get the most we can for 
our money. We find all grades, kinds, 
and qualities of leather at prices to suit 
the purchaser, while our best leather has 
ready sale, and is much sought for in 
the markets of Europe and Australia ; 
and contracts for a constant supply of it 
are now matters of daily occurrence. 
Hence, we infer that we have facilities 
for obtaining materials. Science, skill, 
and capital are employed to an extent, 


in manufacturing all kinds of leather, 
that will ultimately command the mar- 
kets of the world without fear of com- 
petition. A detailed plan of our mode 
of currying and dressing leather may 
not be understood by all, but I will 
endeavor to make it as plain as I can. 

After the skins have been shaved, 
they are placed upon a marble table and 
the flesh side scoured out completely 
with a brush and clean water. After 
having thus been well worked, the flesh 
side is stretched upon the same table, 
and the hair side worked with a stone 
and slicker, and scoured to extend them 
thoroughly; the stretching-iron is then 
well laid on, by which process all the 
water is pressed out. The skins having 
in this way been freed from the greater 
portion of their watery contents, they 
may be held in readiness for the appli- 
cation of the oil. They then receive a 



light coat of oil on the grain or hair side, 
and are hung up by the hind shanks to 
stiffen or sammey (as it is termed), and 
are then exposed, for the purpose of 
drying, either in the open air or within 
the building, — one hour's exposure 
usually sufficing in summer, while in 
winter many more are required. After 
being sufficiently dried, they are taken 
down, and placed upon a marble table, 
and slicked out hard on the flesh side 
with a slicker or stretching-iron. After 
the skins have thus been well worked, 
they receive a mixture of oil and tallow, 
termed dubbing, upon the flesh side. 
After the skins have received their coat- 
ing of dubbing upon the flesh side, and 
the workman has uniformly distributed 
it over the surface with the stuffing- 
cloth, he hangs them up by the hind 
quarters, and allows them to remain in 
the air long enough to absorb their con- 


tents of stuffing, taking care not to let 
them be exposed to the extreme heat of 
the sun or to a great draught of air, for, 
if they are dried too rapidly, the stuffing 
will not penetrate them in the gradual 
manner necessary for the perfection of 
the process. Twenty-four hours of ex- 
posure are usually sufficient in summer, 
while in winter two or three days are 
often required, according to the state of 
the weather. After the skins have be- 
come sufficiently dry, they are taken 
down, and the hair side placed upon a 
table, and the remaining dry stuffing 
removed from the flesh side by the 
slicker. They are then submitted to 
the action of the pommel, and are 
boarded up. These instruments are 
those best adapted for the purpose of 
giving flexibility and a granular appear- 
ance to the leather. The skin is first 
folded with its grain side in contact. 


then stretched out upon a table and 
rubbed strongly with the pommel, or 
marguerite, each quarter being made to 
slide under the instrument, over the 
leather below it, first toward the center, 
and then back to its original position. 
This mode of working leather makes it 
extremely flexible. To give the proper 
grain, the skin is then stretched out 
upon the flesh side, and pommeled from 
head to tail and crosswise. After the 
aforesaid process is completed, the skins 
are then taken to the beam or table and 
whitened. This operation is performed 
by some with the currying knife, on the 
beam ; and, by others, the skin is 
stretched out upon a table, with the 
grain side lying upon a piece of smooth 
leather, fastened to the table, so that the 
skin can be held by the workman and 
whitened with a whiting-slicker, an 
instrument made expressly for that pur- 



pose. The latter is more generally used 
than the former. The skins are trimmed 
off around the edges with a common 
knife, and then about two or three dozen 
are placed upon a table for the applica- 
tion of the blacking. The blacking 
composition is made of oil, tallow, and 
lampblack. The skins are now blacked 
while still upon the table, and are moist- 
ened before this operation if they have 
become too dry, as a certain degree 
of humidity is necessary to enable them 
to receive the color. For the purpose of 
blacking, a mop of wool or brush of 
horse-hair is dipped in the composition 
and the flesh side is thoroughly rubbed 
with it in every direction. After the 
skins have received a sufficient quantity 
of blacking, a size is prepared of equal 
parts of glue and tallow, made to the 
proper consistency, and applied upon 
the blacking with a hard brush. When 


sizing sets, apply the glass slicker over 
the surface, great care being taken to 
avoid scratching it, and a fine, bright fin- 
ish will be produced. Gum Arabic, or 
flax-seed oil, or gum dragon may be 
used, which will also produce a fine, 
bright, hard finish. 

Harness Leather is finished about 
the same as calf-skins, with a little ex- 
ception. The side or hide, whichever it 
may be, when dry, is placed upon a 
table and properly moistened with 
chamber ley or sal soda. A blacking 
composition is prepared of copperas, 
iron rust, and bark liquor. The black- 
ing is applied to the grain side. After 
the application of the blacking, the 
workman distributes a thin coat of hard 
tallow upon the blacked surface, which 
is well stoned in. When a fine article 
is desired, apply to the grain side, upon 
the blacking, a good coat of stuffing, and 


hang it up until dry ; then take it down, 
place it upon a table, and slick off both 
the grain and flesh side, care being 
taken not to scratch the finished surface, 
and a handsome, smooth, and solid finish 
will be produced. 

Blacked Bridle is finished the same 
as harness leather. 

Russet Bridle is shaved and scoured, 
and generally is washed with a solution 
of vitriol and water, care being taken 
not to have the solution too strong. 
When tanned in the old way, with bark 
alone, it must be subjected to a solution 
of sumach liquor about twelve hours. 
(This operation is entirely dispensed 
with when tanned by this process of 
tanning.) After being sumach ed, the 
leather is then dipped in a tub or vat 
containing a solution of sugar of ]ead 
and vitriol, mixed in proper consistency 
with a sufficient quantity of hot water. - 


The leather is plunged in and out until 
the color suits the taste of the work- 
man; it is then hung up to sammey. 
When partly dry, the table is stuffed, 
and the side is placed upon the stuffing 
on the table, and well set out with a 
glass slicker, which leaves a smooth, 
solid surface. A little oxalic acid and 
water is then prepared and applied upon 
the grain with a brush (which must be 
done with care), and a bright russet 
leather will be produced. 

Hokse Leather is finished in the same 
way as harness leather. 

Wax Leather is finished the same as 

Grained Leather is finished about 
the same as harness leather. That which 
is intended for shoes and boots, after it 
is shaved to a proper thickness, is 
pommeled or grained for the purpose 
of giving to the leather the desired 


finish, flexibility, and granular appear- 

This kind of leather is used chiefly by 
shoemakers for the uppers of large shoes 
or stoga boots, the hair side being placed 
out against the frost and storms, in the 
same way as Nature placed it upon the 
animal's body, for protection against the 
inclemency of the weather. 

Patent Leather. — This leather, 
known in commerce as " Patent 
Leathee," is very largely used for 
dress boots and shoes, and for fancy 
mountings. There are various methods 
of manufacturing it. Two distinct op- 
erations are resorted to in the manu- 
facture of polished leather, — one of 
which is the preparation of the surface 
for receiving the varnish, and which is 
effected by closing the pores of the 
leather, and making a proper ground by 
repeatedly rubbing the surface with pul- 


veralent substances, and incorporating 
them with it ; and the other is the 
varnishing of the leather thns dressed 
with suitable brilliant and transparent 
materials. The bases or medium of the 
substance used for both these purposes 
is linseed oil, made drying by boiling 
with metallic oxides or salts, and reduced 
to a sirupy consistence by the prolonged 
action of heat. Five gallons of linseed 
oil are boiled with four pounds four and 
a half ounces of white lead, and the 
same quantity of litharge, each in a 
state of fine division, until it becomes of 
the consistence of thick sirup. This 
mixture is then intimately united with 
one of the ochres, or with powdered 
chalk, according to the fineness of the 
skins which are to be prepared, and is 
uniformly spread upon either side of the 
leather, and well worked into the pores 
with appropriate tools. The leather is 


dried, after the application of each coat, 
by hanging it up, or, what is better, lay- 
ing it out upon frames or racks in the 
drying room. The success of the whole 
process depends very much upon the 
care with which the skins prepared with 
it have been selected, tanned, and 



Leather. — The manufacture of leather 
has been estimated as only fourth in 
importance among the national manu- 
factures of Great Britain. Leather is 
the skin of animals so modified by 
chemical means as to have become un- 
alterable by the external agents which 
tend to decompose it in its natural state. 
It is evident, from what has already 
been observed, that well-tanned leather 
is a homogeneous substance, entirely free 
from unchanged gelatin or fibrin; but 


if the articles used in its preparation 
have been deficient in tanning ingre- 
dients or otherwise wanting in quality ; 
if the various processes have been im- 
perfectly or carelessly performed ; or if 
unforeseen accidents have occurred, the 
excellence of the leather is impaired ; 
and this is generally to be discovered by 
making a section of it. Well-tanned 
leather exhibits, when cut, a shining 
surface and compact body, and is of a 
uniform color, except upon the hair side, 
and has a nutmeg appearance internally. 
Those signs are commonly looked for in 
the tail, the back, and the neck, which 
are the thickest parts of the skin. 
Badly made or inferior leather is com- 
monly detected by its section being of a 
yellowish or blackish color, alternately 
with streaks of a black or whitish hue, 
and by its structure being loose and 
deficient in density and compactness ; 


and a number of other circumstances 
give to leather a spongy and loose 
texture, and render it deficient in the 
requisite color and durability. These 
defects are of such a nature that, when 
once tanned, the leather cannot be im- 
proved or restored to a better condition. 
Some hides are called horny, — -parts of 
which, from want of proper softening, 
are dry and almost as hard as horn ; and 
these are entirely unfit for shoe or boot 
leather, as the tan has not perfectly 
penetrated the hard parts. Others con- 
tain extremely minute perforations made 
by worms, which allow water to filter 
through, and render them useless for 
either sole-leather or carriage-tops. 
Many hides are injured by the butch- 
ers, who damage the flesh side by a 
reckless manner of skinning. These 
imperfections can only be remedied by 
shaving the surface down to a uniform 


thickness, at the risk of making the hide 
thin and weak. Shoemakers using sole- 
leather which has been made from 
hides damaged upon the hair side, either 
in depilating, in paring, or in rinsing 
them, should be careful to place the 
flesh side out ; otherwise, as soon as the 
hair surface has become a little worn, 
the sole will become spongy and easily 
absorb moisture. A common mode of 
determining the quality of leather is to 
allow a drop of water to fall from the 
end of the finger upon the hair side, on 
a cut surface. If the drop preserves its 
circular form, and does not extend, the 
leather is supposed to be well tanned ; 
while, if the water is soon absorbed, it is 
regarded as an evidence of its substance 
being spongy and badly prepared. It is 
believed by some that leather is im- 
proved in quality by age ; and it is a 
common reproach against shoemakers 


that they make use of too fresh mate- 
rials. Exposure for a certain length of 
time is, doubtless, advantageous; but 
leather is not improved by being kept 
longer than two years ; and is apt, after 
that time, to diminish in weight, — 
making it necessary to store it in damp 
cellars. The resistance and durability 
of the leather made into soles of boots 
and shoes are much increased by their 
being laid aside for some time before 
being worn. The coloring of leather 
during the process of tanning arises from 
a dark brown substance, existing more 
or less in the infusions of tanning mate- 
rials, and called, by Sir Humphrey 
Davy, apotheme. This sparingly soluble 
substance is generated by the oxidation 
of extractive matter, and is gradually 
formed when infusions of tanning mate- 
rials are exposed to the air, — all the 
varieties of tannin being, to a certain 


extent, liable to this transformation. 
Hence it is that the uppermost hide of 
the vat, being the most exposed, is the 
most highly colored. This color, or 
hloom 1 as it is technically termed, varies 
somewhat with the kind of tannin em- 
ployed and the treatment or manage- 
ment during the process of tanning. 
Leather tanned with materials contain- 
ing the gall variety and ellagic acid, 
or the pure tannic acid of tannin, is 
bloomed much higher and handsomer 
than with any other coloring matter, 
and which cannot be obtained in bark 
liquor alone. The pale or bright bloom 
or color is the product of the decompo- 
sition of strong or weak tannin respect- 
ively employed. Weak liquor yields 
]ess bloom, and stronger more, being 
richer in tannin. When properly man- 
aged, the bloom attaches itself perma- 
nently to the animal tissue and forms a 


beautiful, saleable color. The fawn color 
is the favorite bloom. In this quick pro- 
cess, the tannin being exposed for a much 
shorter time, yields a richer bloom than 
by the old and lengthy methods of 
tanning. Consequently, as time is an 
important element in the formation of 
tanning, by this process we diminish 
time, labor, and expenses materially. 
The more expeditiously the different 
processes can be accomplished the bet- 
ter will be the quality of leather pro- 
duced. It is considered, however, by 
some, that it may be tanned too rapidly 
to be good. A greater mistake never 
was entertained by any intelligent mind. 
After the leather has received all the 
necessary operation of finishing, it is 
then placed in the sales-room or store 
for the examination of purchasers, who 
generally make a very close and accurate 



examination of its texture, tannage, and 

An examination of the texture and 
quality of leather, in the commission 
house or store room, is represented by 
a wood engraving in front of this 


The views I entertain and herein 
endeavor to express on this subject are 
the results of a practical experience in 
the manufacture of leather of various 

* The Clinton Tannery.— In the old method, years ago, 
tanners were usually satisfied to locate their tanneries in 
the midst of a bark forest, upon a small spring, with 
merely a sufficient quantity of water for the manufac- 
turing purposes, and work the machinery by the old and 
tedious process generally known as horse-power. The 
principles governing this reaction have been, in more 
recent days, developed by the most skillful and experi- 
enced manufacturers of leather. The combination of con- 
venience and advantages derived from water-power — the 
readiness and cheapness with which bark may be ob- 


kinds, and by very many experiments^ 
prompted by a desire to improve in the 
manufacture of one of the first and most 
important articles of every-day con- 
sumption. Perhaps there is no branch 
of domestic manufacturing where there 
is so much room for, and need of, im- 
provement, as in the tanning of leather. 
This country has been, and still is, over- 
run with patented alleged improvements 
in every branch of manufacturing busi- 
ness ; and great improvements in almost 
every branch of manufacturing certainly 
have been made. 

tained — has induced the tanner at once, without reflection, 
to locate upon Nature's elements, a place apparently 
formed for the designed purpose, and build a factory upon 
the most improved plan and of the largest size. The tan- 
nery is a wooden frame building, 240 feet in length, 40 
feet in breadth, and 3 stories (each 8 feet high). Adjoin- 
ing the north end of the tannery is a bark-house 90 feet 
long, 40 feet wide, and 16 feet high, with windows in each 
side, through which bark is received. Within the area of 
the tannery are contained 76 vats, affording about 15,652 
cubic feet of room for tanning purposes, with sufficient 



For the tanning business there have 
been but few patents granted which 
have proved useful ; yet it will not do, 
in this age of progress, to condemn, un- 
tried, every new thing that may be 
offered. Let every alleged improvement 
rest entirely upon its own merits ; for, 
whatever its merits may be, they will, in 
time, be known. We are too inquisitive 
a people to let true merit languish for 
want of encouragement. Perhaps no 
class of manufacturers has been so much 
humbugged by pretended improvements 
as tanners; for almost everything that 

conductors for drawing the liquor to the pumps or junks — 
1 set under the bottom of the vats, and 1 within 3 inches 
of the top. Both set of conductors are connected with 
the junks, and also to the sewer or the waste-way, for the 
purpose of conveying off waste liquors and waters. Each 
of the junks are furnished with a pump of sufficient ca- 
pacity to deliver all the necessary ooze charged with 
tannin. Eight of the aforesaid vats are arranged in the 
handling-house, furnished with paddle-wheels for handling 
stock ; 3 of these are placed on one side and 5 on the 
other. The beam-house contains 13 vats — equivalent to 


has been presented has utterly failed to 
answer the purposes pretended. There- 
fore it is quite necessary that the tanner 
be cautious in adopting anything new; 
for his business is one requiring a heavy 
outlay of capital, and any unfortunate 
experiment he may try may prove a 
serious loss. But if an improvement be 
made, and then fully proved and demon- 
strated — proved as represented — then 
the sooner the tanner avails himself of 
the advantage of it the better ; for those 
who take hold of all good improvements 
in their business are those that are most 

4,098 cubic feet — for liming, bating, and soaking purposes. 
It has connected with it a hide-mill and washing-machine, 
for softening, washing, and cleansing the hides. There 
are 4 leaches — equivalent to 5,120 cubic feet of room — for 
extracting the tannin from bark for the tanning of hides, 
which are furnished with two copper heaters. The upper 
or north end of the tannery is built against a bank, making 
the second story on a level with the surface of the earth. 
Under the north-east corner (in the tannery connected 
with the beam-house) is a sweat pit (built of stone), ar- 


There is yet, in my opinion, much to 
learn in the art and mystery of tanning. 
It is, to all intents and purposes, a chem- 
ical process, and requires much practical 
experience as well as mental research. 
What is tanning but a chemical opera- 
tion from the beginning to the end — 
changing hides into leather ? The manu- 
facturing of leather, more than any other 
mechanical branch of business, is a chem- 
ical process, almost wholly relying upon 
the skill and judgment with which the 
principles of tanning are conducted. 
To attain the requisite skill in the 

ranged upon the most approved plan. In the opposite 
corner, on the same level, is the machinery room, where 
the water-wheel is attached to the gearing for the purpose 
of running the different work in the factory. In the cen- 
ter, between these two rooms, is a room for depositing 
ground bark after falling from the bark-mill, which is 
placed on the second story. In this room, under the bark 
mill, are elevators, for carrying the ground bark up into 
-the third story for the purpose of supplying the leaches. 
See Diagram, which is represented by a wood engraving 
in front of this chapter, and as follows : A is the bark- 


laboratory of the chemist is evidently 
impossible. It can only be acquired in 
the tanning process itself by careful and 
close observation. The question has 
been frequently asked, How long does 
it take to tan sole-leather ? By the old 
method of tanning, with bark alone, it 
takes from eight to fifteen months ; by 
this system of tanning it takes from two 
to three months, according to the thick- 
ness of the sides, the strength of the 
liquor, and the number of sides in the 
vats ; and the quicker tanned the better. 
I would here remark, that several con- 

room, 20 feet in length, 13 feet in width, and 8 feet high, 
made very close, for containing fine ground bark as it falls 
from the bark-mill, and preserved until conveyed by a 
truck-car to the tan-pits for laying away the stock. B is 
a sweat pit, for sweating hides, which destroy, dissolve, or 
soften the bulbous roots of the hair in the place of lime, 
and thus the hair is removed ; this room is built of stone, 
and is, in the area, 20 feet in length, 11 feet in width, and 
8 feet in depth. C is the machinery department, 11 feet 
wide, 20 feet long, and 8 feet high. D is the water-wheel, 
placed on the north-west corner of the tannery, 20 feet in 


siderations must be noticed in order to 
meet the questions understandingly. 

Fwst, I should say that the hides (as 
everyone knows), if heavy, require more 
time than if comparatively light. 

Second, If the hides are fresh, they 
are capable of being properly softened ; 
and, if so, the process of tanning can be 
completed much sooner than in case of 
old and hard hides, that cannot be soft- 
ened with the same facility. 

Third, If the hides have sufficient 
room in the vat, so as not to lie crowded,, 
they will tan much faster than when 

diameter, and 8 feet wide, with an over-shot power equiv- 
alent to 50-horse power, driven by water brought from 
the Schuylkill River, in a race, from a dam made expressly 
for that purpose. T is the water-wheel shaft, extending 
from the wheel into the machinery-room, and there con- 
nected by gearing to the work in the tannery. E is an 
entrance to the sweat pit. F is an entrance to the ma- 
chinery room G is 4 leaches, each 16 feet in length, 8 
feet in width, and 10 feet in depth ; the 4 leaches will con- 
tain 5,120 cubic feet of bark and water for the manufac- 


Fourth, As the tanning advances the 
liquor should be renewed seasonably, 
and its strength increased in a ratio pro- 
portionable to each stage of tanning. 

Fifth, When the process of tanning 
is once commenced, it should not be 
allowed to cease until the stock is com- 
pletely tanned; and, in order that the 
process may be continually going on, the 
stock requires a constant increase of the 
strength of the liquor. 

Sixth, The question is, Is the leather 
to be tanned so as barely to pass in 
market, or to be well prepared, so as to 
make firm and solid leather? This 

ture of tannin ; the bottom of the leaches are 3 feet above 
the level of the top of the tan-pits, which makes them 
occupy the second story as well as the first; the room 
occupied by the leaches, furnaces, and entrance to the 
machinery and sweat-rooms is about 2*7 feet lengthwise in 
the tannery, and the fall width, which is 40 feet. H is 2 
copper heaters (placed in the bottom of the leachers), each 
3 feet in diameter and 15 feet long, tapering off at one end 
to 12 inches in diameter; the 12-inch pipe runs four times 
through the leaches, and enters a stock about 18 inches 


involves a consideration of much im- 

Seventh, Is it reasonable to suppose 
that it requires from one to seven years, as 
we are told it formerly did in England, 
to make leather from hides, when the 
same work can be accomplished in the 
space of three months ? 

But persons unacquainted with the 
nature and principles of tanning gen- 
erally suppose that the longer time skins 
are undergoing the process of tanning 
the better will be the quality of the 
leather produced. This is a great mis- 
take. But how did this opinion gain 

below the top of the leach, making each heater 75 feet in 
length, including the small and large portion ; each heater 
runs through two leaches. / and V is the mouth of the 
furnace in the heaters, where fuel enters and heat is ob- 
tained for heating the leaches. / is the stock or chimney, 
to which the heaters are connected, for discharging smoke 
and gas from the furnace. K is a hide-mill or fulling 
stock (for a full description see Chapter IV). W is a 
washing-machine (for particulars see Chapter IV., page 
49). Y is 3 pools for soaking dry hides ; each pool is 9 


credence and become so general? By 
(in my opinion) tanners, who do not 
understand the first principles of their 
calling, attempting to tan quickly by 
apj)lying strong liquors, at first, to hides 
not properly cleansed and prepared in 
the beam-house for the liquors, and by a 
neglect of handling, or a proper degree 
of agitation while the process is going 
on. If you want to tan quickly, and 
produce good and heavy leather, have 
your skins properly prepared in the 
beam-house. This is the grand starting- 
point in the manufacture of good leather, 
and much more depends upon this 

feet long, 5 feet wide, and 6 feet deep, — which will hold 
810 cubic feet of water ; this soak and wash-room occu- 
pies 18 feet by 40. L is the beam-house; the portion 
used for unhairing and bating the hides is 48 feet in length 
and 40 feet in width, making the beam-house, soak and 
wash-room 66 feet in length and 40 feet wide. M is 6 
vats, 9 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 6 feet deep, — for liming 
and bating purposes. N is 4 vats or pools, 8 feet long, 1 
feet wide, and 6 feet deep, — used for the purpose of wash- 
ing and rinsing the hides. X is a trap-door, to hoist the 

ON TANNING. . 205 

branch of the manufacture than most 
tanners suppose. If for limed stock, 
either for upper or sole-leather, have 
your hides in good order for the lime, — 
that is, soft enough, but not too soft, for 
dried skins may be very much injured 
by being softened too much. (A hide, 
when just taken from the animal, should 
be the criterion ; it is then best suited for 
the lime.) Then put them in the lime, 
and have them frequently agitated, and 
keep them in no longer than will be 
sufficient to loosen the hair that it may 
be removed. After the hair is com- 
pletely removed, the skins are washed 

stock up into the upper stories by means of a pulley or a 

hoisting tackle. Q is the handling-house, 26 feet long and 

40 feet wide (see description in Chapter X). P is 2 

pumps, for pumping the liquors from the junks, which are 

each 10 feet square and 12 feet deep; when full, will hold 

2,400 cubic feet of tanning liquor. S is 8 handlers, 3 of 

which are 7 feet in width. 8 feet in length, and 6 feet in 

depth ; the 5 on the opposite side are 4 feet wide, 8 feet 

long, and 6 feet deep; these vats are used for the first 

introduction of skins to the tanning ooze. U is 68 tan 

206 - REMARKS 

in a. vat full of water, and are then sub- 
jected to a weak liquor at first, which 
must be gradually strengthened until 
the stock is completely tanned. 

Leather is an article of universal use. 
It is worn by the civilized and by the 
savage, the high and the low, the rich and 
the poor of all nations, from the icy 
regions of the north to the burning 
sands of the tropic. It was known and 
used by man long before the first alphabet 
was invented — before the waters of the 
deluge had rolled over the face of our 
planet — before the Tower of Babel was 

vats, — 24 of which are 8 feet in length, 1 feet in width, 
and 5-J- feet in depth ; the balance, being 44 vats, are 7-§- 
feet long, 3£ feet wide, and 5£ feet deep. is the doors 
for passing in and out the tannery. R is a railroad, of 2-£ 
feet track, running through the center of the tannery, 
running from the bark-room down through the center, and 
out at the lower end, and around to the bank of the river, 
for carrying out the waste materials and carrying the stock 
through the different parts of the factory ; and also a rail- 
road running across in front of the furnaces, and out at 


erected — or the foundations of the ever- 
enduring Pyramids were laid. 

Leather is an article of manufacture, — 
entirely a compound substance, a chem- 
ical product. Although it is made of 
the skins of animals, it is as different 
from the raw material as oil — one of 
its two ingredients — is from soap. 
Skins are principally composed of gela- 
tin, which is soluble in hot water, and is 
converted into glue by repeated steep- 
ings in warm water. Leather is simply 
the raw material combined with other 
substances, which render it elastic and 
insoluble in water. Various substances 

each side, down on the lower side to the wood and coal- 
yard, and, on the upper side, across the turnpike to the 
storehouse. This latter road is for carrying hides from 
the warehouse into the tannery, and the leather into the 
warehouse, and also for bringing fuel into the factory for 
heating purposes. The second story of the building is 
occupied for finishing purposes, and is furnished with a 
railroad, running through the center from one end to the 
other, for the convenience of the workmen. The third 
story is used for drying the stock, which is also possessed 


are employed to obtain this result ; and 
different qualities of leather are pro- 
duced by the different ingredients em- 
ployed and the modes of using them in 
its manufacture. 

The process of manufacture is named 
tanning, and the principal substance em- 
ployed is tannic acid. This acid is found 
in various substances. Good upper- 
leather should have the following quali- 
ties, — elasticity, softness, and insolubility 
in water. Good sole-leather should be 
close in the grain, firm, but slightly 
elastic, and perfectly water-proof. Tan- 
nic acid is extracted from various sub- 

with the convenience of a railroad. The bark-shed, on 
the north end of the factory, is 90 feet long, 40 feet wide, 
and 16 feet high, with a railroad in the center, running 
from the upper or north end down to the bark-mill. The 
floor of the shed is on a level with the floor in the second 
story of the tannery. The shed will hold, when full, 450 
cords of bark, besides other sheds of similar size, within 
one and three hundred yards distant from the factory, but 
connected by railroad. 

This commodious edifice is situated on the east bank of 


stances containing tannin, by immersing 
those ingredients in hot water, and there- 
by forming a decoction of tanning ooze. 
By simply steeping the hides in this tan- 
liquor, the tannin leaves the water, com- 
bines with the gelatine of the skin 
chemically, and forms our " understand- 
ings," which we term Leather. This is 
the theory of tanning ; but, in carrying 
it into practice, the manipulations are ex- 
ceedingly various, and the qualities of the 
leather manufactured depend on a very 
extensive range of processes, machinery, 
and chemical substances. All the pro- 
cesses of tanning are laborious, expensive, 

the Schuylkill River, about 1^ miles from Clinton Village, 
which is situated on the w6st side of the river, nearly 
opposite the tannery. The factory is about one mile from 
the Kittanning or Blue Mountains, where bark is obtained 
in an abundance at a very small cost, and is used in con- 
nection with my chemicals. The main road or turnpike 
from Pottsville to Reading is about 20 yards distant, and 
parallel with the frontof the tannery. On the same level, 
about 100 yards from the tannery, is a storehouse, 20 feet 
by 50, and 2 stories high. On the same side of the road, 


and tedious. It formerly required months 
and years to tan leather from hides ; and 
the cost of manufacturing leather from 
the raw material amounted to millions 
of dollars annually ; but now time and 
expense are materially reduced. 

Inventive genius has done wonders in 
facilitating chemico-physical processes of 
this art. Only think for a moment of 
the change which has come over the 
spirit of the tanner's dream. Three, and 
even seven years, were once considered 
necessary for the perfection of certain 
kinds of leather,' — such as that which 
furnishes our shoe -soles. The machinery- 

a short distance above the storehouse, are about 20 dwell- 
ing houses, and also a fine, commodious hotel, and several 
mechanical shops. This commodious factory, and all the 
convenience of water power, and facilities of shipping 
hides and leather, are represented by a wood engraving 
in front of this chapter. About 400 yards from the north 
end of the tannery — which is seen on the engraving — is a 
bridge, built across the Schuylkill River, through which 
is a road leading up to Clinton, which is also seen in a 
distant view from the factory. About 300 yards from the 


aided process by which these wonders 
have been accomplished, has been known 
and used in this country for some years. 

By the aid of this new process, whose 
principle is to bring the skins into rap- 
idly-repeated contact with the tanning 
liquor, leather is formed more rapidly 
and expeditiously, and of a better qual- 
ity. But no important improvement 
in any manufacturing business can 
come into general use without the co- 
operation of energetic business men 
engaged in it. 

In this age of improvements it cannot 

tannery is a dam, built across the river, 30 feet high, by 
the Schuylkill Navigation Company, for the use of their 
canal. A little above the dam is a race, made for the pur- 
pose of supplying the factory with water, affording a very 
extensive power to turn the different machinery or works 
in the tannery ; and also a tail-race or waste-way, lor car- 
rying the waste water from the factory into the river. On 
the opposite side of the river from the tannery, between 
the river and Clinton Village, is a canal, or the Schuylkill 
Navigation ; and between the canal and the village is seen 


possibly be considered a fixed fact that 
everything has arrived at its u manifest 
destiny" of perfection. There is room 
for improvements in every branch of 
manufacturing business. As to the art 
of tanning, I consider it yet in its 

The only way to progress is to make 
efforts to improve ; and the failure of a 
thousand plans should never be held up 
as a bugbear, or a barrier to arrest the 
introduction and trial of a new and 
reasonable process to improve any art. 
It is my opinion that improvements will 

on the engraving the Reading Railroad, running from 
Philadelphia to Reading and Pottsville. The railroad 
depot is also represented by the engraving, which is one 
mile from the tannery. 

This large leather factory, referred to in the illustration, 
was constructed upon my improved plan, and produces 
double the amount of tanned leather in one year than any 
other tannery in the State of the same size and expense. 
This factory is tanning about 15,000 sides a year, besides 
a great number of small skins. At the Clinton Tannery 


yet be made in the manufacture of 
leather of such a character as will 
reduce its manufacturing cost at least 

After several years' experimentiDg in 
the tanning of leather, and in trying to 
facilitate and expedite the process of 
manufacturing it, — I was very successful. 
However, experimenting with a variety 
of materials is very tedious, laborious, 
and expensive. In a pursuit of this kind 
the patience of Job is often required. 
Attempts at improvement, perseveringly 
repeated, will in the end seldom fail. 

the greatest strength of liquors used for handling, as indi- 
cated by Pike's barkometer, is 13 degrees ; that employed 
in laying away varies from 35 to 50 degrees. Much care 
and judgment is necessary in proportioning the continually 
increasing strength of the liquors to the requirements of 
the leather in different stages of the process. A glance at 
the illustration, and also at these notes, will at once con- 
vince any one that the advantages of such an establishment 
can not be surpassed by any other in the States. 


In passing through our land and ob- 
serving the young, the eager, and the 
intelligent who are destined hereafter to 
fill high posts of trust and honor, — that 
from these would come your princely 
merchants, your aldermen, mayors, rep- 
resentatives, men of iron nerves, warm 
hearts, and clear heads, ready to com- 
pete for the highest places in the pulpit, 
at the bar, or on the forum, and even, 
perhaps, the highest omce in the gift of 
a free people, — why may they not rank, 

218 the mechanic's 

by their industry, intelligence, and vir- 
tue, among those whom America will be 
proud to number among her devoted 


and patriotic sons? Not for ourselves 
alone is the grand law of Nature 
inscribed on all the Creator's works, — 
not for ourselves alone, but for others, 
does the sun dispense his beams, — not 
for ourselves alone do the clouds distil 
their showers nor the teeming earth 
unlock her treasures! So, my brother 
mechanics, it is not for ourselves alone, 
but for others, and for all, that the 


blessings of heaven are so plentifully 
bestowed upon man. All that any of 
us can say is, that we are the almoners 
of God's bounty, and that what consti- 
tutes the true wealth of this great 
country — it is labor! Fix it as you 
will — let who will live upon our bread 
and meat — still, labor lies at the founda- 
tion of all, and, without it, neither 
society nor civilization could exist. He 
who derides labor, or undervalues it, 
strikes at the order of Nature, the 
foundations of society — at civilization, 
and at Christianity itself. Labor is the 
very Gold of Ophir — the true, intrinsic 
wealth of a nation. The gold of elo- 
quence or the silver of rhetoric I have 
none, but such as I have give I unto 





The hardy tillers of the soil are the 
foundation, and our industrious, working 
mechanics, the builders of our mighty 
fabric of national wealth, independence, 
and happiness. The laboring men and 
mechanics of our country are the true 
bone and sinew of the land — the main- 
spring and support of the machine of 
government. They are, in truth, the 
creators of a nation's wealth — the great 
artificers of national prosperity. If the 
tyrant, Louis XIV., in the glory of 
his most splendid reign, could utter, in 
the pride of his borrowed royalty, the 


sentence, " I am the State," with how 
much more truth can we, the working 
men of the nation, say — and how much 
more noble and true does it sound when 
we, the people, say — " "We are the 
State ? " Where the mechanics are 
down-trodden and depressed — made 
hewers of wood and drawers of water 
to those who have robbed them of their 
rights — there, such a monster as Louis, 
and other crowned heads, might well 
say, " I am the State.' 7 But let labor be 
honored as it is here — let light be shed 
upon the great depths of despotism as we 
now see it beginning to beam in Eu- 
rope—and you will see the people there, 
as here, rising in their majesty and say- 
ing to their banished monarchs, "We 
are the State." Let there be no more 
kings nor queens ! The mechanic is not 
only the architect and builder of his own 
fortune, of society's and of a nation's 

222 the mechanic's 

prosperity, but his is one of the most 
independent classes in the community. 
The professional man depends upon his 
mental gifts or acquirements ; and when 
he fails to gain the popular favor, or, by 
some sudden change, loses it, he is put to 
desperate shifts to earn a livelihood. 
You have seen the crest-fallen lawyer, or 
the proud statesman or politician, hum- 
bly suing for aid at the comfortable 
fire-side of the mechanic. The skillful 
artisan is an independent man ; for, place 
him in whatever part of the world you 
may, he can always secure his bread, 
because he is capable of doing something 
that is useful to his fellow-man. The 
story of the two men cast away among 
savages is an apt illustration. One was 
a gentleman, the other a basket-maker ; 
the basket-maker was well treated be- 
cause he could do something for himself; 
but the savages, in their simplicity, could 


not understand what a gentleman is, 
and the basket-maker's handiwork saved 
the poor gentleman from starving. In 
the circles where true refinement never 
dwells, you may hear the expression 
sometimes used, as if in derision or com- 
miseration, " 0, he is only a working 
mechanic [-" It may seem strange, but 
there are men, and women, too, who can 
boast no other lineage themselves, and 
who, when told of this poor man's mis- 
fortune, or that man's sudden fall, pass 
over the matter with the cold remark of, 
a He is only a mechanic!" There are 
more happy, prosperous, noble men 
among the laboring mechanics of this, 
our land, than in any other class of equal 
numbers. There was a certain man, 
called Felix, in the Scriptures ; his coun- 
trymen were a proud race, and hated the 
laboring mechanic; but one of these 
despised men — a tent-maker — made this 



same Felix tremble, although only a me- 
chanic. Noah was a shipwright; Solo- 
mon an architect; and those who built 
the pyramids, and planned the ancient 
cities, whose ruins all the historians, 
philosophers, and learned men of mod- 
ern times are yet unable fully to ex- 
plain, — the great temples of the holy city 
of Jerusalem, — the renowned structures 
of Tyre and Sidon, of Balbec and Perse- 
polis, of Babylon and Palmyra, Thebes 
and Memphis, — wondrous monuments of 
the East, whose magnificence no modern 
art can excel, — who built them ? O, it 
was only mechanics ! And then, who was 
the first mechanic ? The great Author 
of our being, that first built the world ; 
and then, as the sublimity of mechanism, 
He made us "fearfully and wonder- 
fully." Give your attention for a mo- 
ment to the impulse given to modern 
improvement and the change wrought 



upon the face of the whole world by 
the invention of Faust, who gave light 
and knowledge to all mankind. To the 
discoveries of Columbus, the science of 


Franklin, the ingenuity of Arkwright,. 
the genius of Fulton and of Whitney, — - 
mechanics all, — what does this nation 
owe ? — what does the civilized world owe, 
to these great men ? All the improve- 
ments that were ever made by all the 
kings and emperors, and by all the 

226 the mechanic's 

artists, poets, philosophers, and states- 
men that ever lived, you may pile up in 
one scale, and they are outweighed by 
the discoveries of Faust, Fulton, and 
Whitney ; and yet these men earned 
their bread by the sweat of their brow ! 
We have a right to be proud that 
Franklin, and Fulton, and Whitney 
were all countrymen of ours, although 
only mechanics. Young as we are as a 
nation, such is the free scope and tend- 
ency of our institutions, and the salubrity 
of our glorious climate, to foster the full 
energies of the mind and to produce the 
whole man, that, in all the useful me- 
chanic arts, we are outstripping the 
nations of the old world. In arts, and 
in arms, and in every worldly pursuit of 
man, our advancement stands unequaled 
since the world began. You all have 
duties to perform as citizens, neighbors, 
members of the great community of 


working and active men. Rome was 
not built in a day ; nor can anything 
great or noble in human ingenuity be 
accomplished without labor. It is the 
boast of the workingman that he can do 
what he says. The mechanics of our 
country, active and intelligent as they 
are, may proudly hold up their heads, as 
a body, and say boldly to the politicians 
and the orators of the day, " What you 
promise we perform." While making 
some observations on this glorious re- 
public, destined to be the greatest in the 
world, for evidences not only of what 
mechanics can do, but what they have 
done, go into your public edifices, your 
exchanges, your temples devoted to the 
worship of God, and your halls of edu- 
cation, and there you will see the handi- 
work of labor. Look into your banks, 
your city councils, and then abroad into 
your States, and the most successful, the 


most illustrious and beloved, are the 
ones who early learned the lesson of 
labor and how to think for themselves ; 
they were always up to their business, 
but never above it. 

There are two great levers which sus- 
tain us, — the one is employment ; the 
other, the knowledge of how to regulate 
and improve it. In other words, they 
are the union of occupation and instruc- 
tion. Nothing can give more satisfaction 
to the mind than the enjoyment of the 
necessaries and comforts of life flowing 
from the industry of him who earns 
them. This is the fruit of occupation ; 
and the improvements of society follow 
in proportion as the occupied mind ad- 
vances in proper cultivation. The absurd 
idea, that labor is inconsistent with learn- 
ing or respectability, is one of the 
errors of weak minds, ignorant of the 
nature of the ligaments which bind 


society together. It is one of the follies 
of antiquated fashion which is passing 
away ; and we are now beginning to 
consider the mechanic trades, and all 
branches of honest industry, as the co- 
ordinate and necessary associates of 
education, integrity and manliness. The 
history of the social operations of man- 
kind teaches us that, in all periods of 
time, they have altered the destinies of 
individuals as well as of nations, and 
have had their influence upon ages to 
come. The physical industry of man is 
certainly a high quality; but, vigorous 
as it is, it gains so much by its associa- 
tion with a cultivated intellect, that 
while the one, when alone, resembles the 
rough materials of handicraft, and the 
other the latent genius that is to fashion 
them, they, both united, represent the 
perfection of skill and its fruitful appli- 
cation to the production of human hap- 

230 the mechanic's 

piness. In former days, trades were 
merely physical ; none of the sciences, 
and but few branches of the fine arts, 
entered into their action. True, there 
were some few exceptions, dependent 
upon individual condition and scholar- 
ship ; but, generally, labor in any calling 
was strictly and exclusively mechanical. 
There is now, however, a progressive 
spirit which belongs to the times. 
Whether it has resulted from the insti- 
tutions of this country — which, by cast- 
ing off the trammels of political tyranny, 
and by the abundance of our land for 
an easy support, have enabled men to 
think more freely and consistently with 
the object of their creation and posi- 
tion — or is a part of a pervading princi- 
ple which the Divine Being has permitted 
to spread through the world, is a prob- 
lem for solution. Be this as it may, we 
see that there is evidently an advance in 


the different trades and their branches, 
a more intimate relationship between 
mind and the labors of the operator, a 
clearer working through the lights of 
reason, so that, even among the inferior 
callings, the lamp of science sheds its 
rays, even if it is seen only in nickerings 
from the distance at which it stands. It 
has been said that all men have their 
mental affinities ; that some pass un- 
heeded away, without having left any 
" footprints in the sand of time," only 
because the period of their sojourning 
presented no occasions, no elective influ- 
ence to draw out their energies or their 
talents, while the great are but the 
creatures of opportunity, or who, having 
been touched by the Ithuriel wand, have 
sprung out into light, brightness, and 
renown. Opportunity is certainly a 
great ingredient in any effort ; and with- 
out it, either offered or acquired, no 



voluntary act can well succeed. The 
tanner should have a thorough knowl- 
edge of chemistry ; and, by applying his 
acquired knowledge to the branch of 
industry which has engaged his special 
attention, he makes a good leather 
manufacturer and becomes a well- 
instructed man in the general business 
of life. The characteristic traits of a 
man are also elements of his future ; but 
still it should add to the credit of the 
individual, who, cultivating an under- 
standing of his nature and his latent 
abilities, uses them to advantage in that 
" tide in the affairs of men, which, taken 
at the flood, leads on to fortune." The 
time was, and in some degree still is, 
when reputation in honors was princi- 
pally founded upon, and esteemed for, 
distinction in literature, the fine arts, the 
emblazonments of wealth, and the posi- 
tions which they respectively gave. The 


rest, like hewers of wood and drawers 
of water who served at the building of 
Solomon's temple, were supposed to be 
sufficiently compensated by the daily 
penny paid for their labors. No mark 
or memorial was left upon the edifice of 
their works ; and, except in the narrow 
circle of their industry, none knew of 
their labors or their zeal. In the gen- 
eral operations of the society of the 
good and hardy tanners, it is not to be 
expected that the mere ordinary com- 
ponents of that great whole shall be 
held in any special remembrance, either 
in the present or the future. Much will 
be, as has already been, done by the 
agency of those very qualities in placing 
honorable occupation of labor upon the 
true level of its merits. Tanner, pause, 
and accompany me, for a moment, to 
what has already been observed relative 

234 the mechanic's 

to labor and industry; mark out the 
way, and forget not to follow it. 

The end crowns the work, and so have 
the good results of labor left a crown 
upon the name more endearing to the 
good man than all the pomp and cir- 
cumstance that power, alone, or wealth 
could purchase. The days of chivalry 
arising from the power of kings and 
nobles, the empires of war and victo- 
ries, crusades of faith, and the necessary 
maintenance of the followers of such 
errantries, as well while they lasted as 
in a the cankers of a long peace," were 
the beginnings of the false distinctions 
which made idleness honorable and left 
industry with only the reward of its own 
products. It takes time to accomplish 
any revolution which shall be of perma- 
nent benefit ; and it is proper it should 
be so, as improvements are worked out 
in the progress of experience which 


could not be made in a leap from one 
condition to another. The doctrine of a 
necessity for useful occupation in all men 
is a great element in this change. Men 
do not begin to think calmly or wisely 
in the turmoil of exciting pursuits. It 
is only when they are falling into their 
proper places in the great community, 
and putting their shoulder to the wheel 
to do something useful, that they per- 
ceive their relative positions, their obli- 
gations, and the duties which belong to 
them as integrants of the whole. It is, 
therefore, industry which is the ground- 
work of reform, both moral and politi- 
cal; it is the basis of domestic virtue, 
comfort, and plenty ; and the producer 
of what sustains a nation and improves 
its condition. When to this is added 
education, its followers are the support- 
ers of man in all his conditions, wants, 


236 the mechanic's 

advances, and elegancies of life, and are 
the safeguards of society. 

These reflections arise spontaneously 
from the nature of the subject we are 
discussing, as being intimately connected 
with the career of the good man, re- 
claiming or saving from time what would 
otherwise be lost. If it be creditable to 
perpetuate the knowledge of the deeds 
of man in arms — of wars that have deso- 
lated the earth and left misery and sighs 
to be felt again in after ages by those 
who deprecate and sympathize while 
they read — how much more worthy an 
effort is it to record in imperishable 
form the good civic conduct of those 
unpretending men who have labored 
during their lives for the common weal, 
and who make, in every field, two 
blades of grass grow where only one 
srrew before \ 


In the world's broad field of battle- 
In the bivouac of life — 

Be not like the driven cattle ; 
Be a hero in the strife ! 

Lives of great men all remind us, 
"We can make our own sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 
Footsteps in the sand of time. 

Let us, then, be up and doing, 
With a heart for any fate ; 

Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait. 

It belongs to you, my brother me- 
chanic, to rise in the world. You who 
are willing to be advised by those who 
have experience, consult the wise and 
good and profit by their examples. If 
you would succeed in life, let your motto 
be not only to look ahead, but go ahead. 
Set your mark high, and strive to reach 

238 the mechanic's 

it. You can succeed if you will remem- 
ber, my friends, the almost omnipotent 
power of perseverance, the power of 
industry and of labor — you who are just 
beginning the world— that fourteen or 
sixteen hours a day are sure to foot a 
good account and seldom need an 
indorser. " Order is heaven's first law," 
and the Scripture tells us to " Let every- 
thing be done decently and in order." 
The man of method is generally a suc- 
cessful man. The neglect of this great 
principle has ruined its tens of thousands. 
An excellent rule is, Let nothing be ne- 
glected that can be done to-day. What- 
ever you undertake, pursue it steadily if 
you wish to succeed ; for wherever there 
is a will there is a way ; then forget not 
the advice of the wise man, "And 
with all thy getting get understanding." 
Bear in mind that the laboring mechanic 
should educate his head, his hands, and 


his heart. He will thus learn to distin- 
guish good from evil, to know how to 
supply his wants and add to his com- 
forts, and how to dispense blessings to 
all around him. 


Award of cheer to the hearty tanner, 
And a blessing on his trade ;i 

A leather bough shall be his banner, 
Over all the land displayed. 

Amid the forest-giant's winding, 
While far away the hunter's coil 

Round the wild bull's neck is binding, 
He marks the noblest for his spoil. 

Work on, ye Pitmen all! 

And let the hide be sound; 
Work on! joy to the land 

Where working-men abound! 

244 the tanners' cheer. 

His labor gives the world protection 

In an ever changing form, 
From the summer sun's reflection 

And the winter's raging storm. 

It guards the tread of the sturdy yeoman, 
And guides his plow-horse over the mead ; 

It adorns the lovely foot of woman, 
And reins the patriot's battle steed. 

Work on, ye Curriers all! 

And let the beam resound; 
Work on ! joy to the land 

Where working-men abound! 

The wit and lore of bygone ages, 
His labor saves from swift decay; 

It guards the Bible's holy pages, 
And grasps the follies of the day. 

It aids the loom's bright imitation 

By turning every busy wheel ; 
It bears the stream to stay the conflagration, 

And sheathes the warrior's flashing steel. 

THE tanners' cheer. 245 

Work on, ye Tanners all! 

And let the song go round; 
Work on! joy to the land 

Where working-men abound ! 

See illustration in front of this chapter, representing a 
party of Tanners singing the above words. 


I'l II" 




Whereas, David H. Kennedy, of New 
Alexandria, Pennsylvania, has alleged 
that he has invented a new and useful 
composition for tanning hides, which he 
states has not been known or used before 
his application ; has made oath that he is 
a citizen of the United States ; that he 
does verily believe that he is the original 
and first inventor or discoverer of the 

250 COPY OF 

said composition, and that the same hath 
not, to the best of his knowledge and 
belief, been previously known or used, 
has paid into the treasury of the United 
States the sum of thirty dollars, and 
presented a petition to the Commissioner 
of Patents, signifying a desire of ob- 
taining an exclusive property in the said 
composition, and praying that a patent 
may be granted for that purpose, — 

These aee, therefore, to grant, 
according to law, to the said David H. 
Kennedy, his heirs, administrators, or 
assigns, for the term of fourteen years, 
from the fourteenth day of April, one 
thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven, 
the full and exclusive right and liberty 
of making, constructing, using, and 
vending to others to be used, the said 
composition, a description whereof is 
given in the words of the said Kennedy, 
in the schedule hereunto annexed, and is 
made a part of these presents. 


In testimony whereof, I have caused 
these letters to be made patent, and the 
seal of the Patent Office has been 
hereunto affixed. Given under my 
hand, at the city of Washington, this 
fourteenth day of Apri], in the year of 
our Lord one thousand eight hundred 
and fifty-seven, and of the independence 
of the United States of America the 

Jacob Thompson, 
Secretary of the Interior. 
[l. s.] S. T. Shugept, 

Asst. Comm'r of Patents. 

Countersigned, and sealed with the 
seal of the Patent Office. 






To all to vjJiom these presents shall come: 
Be it known that I, David H. Ken- 
nedy, formerly of Reading, in the county 
of Berks, but now of New Alexandria, 
in the county of Westmoreland, and 
State of Pennsylvania, have invented or 
discovered certain new and useful com- 
positions of matter to be used in the 
tanning of leather ; and the following is 



a full, clear, and exact description of 
the manner of preparing and using the 

This composition consists of 

pounds of or of ; 

pounds of of ; pounds 

of of or of 

; ... pound of of ; 

. . . pounds of ( of ) ; 

. . . pound of or ; 

These ingredients should be dissolved 
separately in hot water, or in a hot 
decoction of tan bark, which is prefera- 
ble, and then poured into a tank, and 
thoroughly stirred together to form the 
tanning liquor, which may be drawn off 
as required, to supply the vats or vessels 
in which the hides are to be tanned. 

The tanning liquor thus formed in the 
tank is in the most concentrated form, 
and only suitable to apply to hides in 
the advanced stages of the tanning pro- 


cess, and must be largely diluted with 
water or bark-water before it is applied 
to hides at the commencement of this 
process ; or else, before applying it to 
such hides, it should be partially spent 
by having had hides in a more advanced 
state steeped in it. 

The strength of the liquor should be 
increased as the tanning progresses, — * 
care being taken to handle the hides fre- 
quently in the early part of the process, 
while the liquor is weak ; but less hand- 
ling will do as the process advances. 
Hides intended for sole-leather may 
(near the close of the process) be laid 
down in a vat, alternately with layers of 
ground bark, and then a liquor, com- 
posed of three parts of the composition 
before mentioned and one part of strong 
bark liquor, should be poured into the 
vat until it covers the hides. Hides 
thus laid down may continue undis- 

256 copy of 

turbed until fully tanned — say from ten 
to fifteen days. Light skins need not be 
laid down, as they will be thoroughly 
tanned by merely handling in the liquor. 

Hides will be tanned by this process 
quickly or slowly, according to the 
amount of handling and the strength of 
the tanning liquor. When a tan-yard 
has become impregnated thoroughly 
with the chemicals employed, the tan- 
ning will be performed with less expense 
than at first, the quality of the leather 
will be noticeably improved, and the 
time required for tanning diminished. 

When the before mentioned tanning 
compound is employed with hemlock 
bark, in the proportion of fifteen pounds 
of the compound to about one hundred 
and twenty-eight cubic feet of the bark, 
the leather produced will have the color, 
pliancy, and other desirable qualities of 
the best oak-tanned leather. In this 


way the expense of oak-tanned leather 
will be greatly reduced, while the quality 
will be fully maintained. 

What I claim as my invention, and 
desire to secure by lettees patent, is 

the combination of , the 

of .... , of , or 

of , and of , . . . , 

— , or , — , dissolved 

in water or tan-bark liquor, for the pur- 
pose of tanning hides and shins substan- 
tially as herein set forth. 

In testimony whereof I have hereunto 

subscribed my name. 

David H. Kennedy. 

David Bedfoed, ) w . x 
James B. Dun^ } Wltaesses - 



Advantages of this Process 32 

American Ox-hides 41 

African Hides 45 

African Skins 61 

Albumen, nature of , . . . . 61 

Buenos Ayres Hides 38 

Brazilian Hides 39 

Bull-hides 41 

Beam-house 81 

Bating 91 

Census — Tanning Interest in 1855 22 

Capitalists, Facts and Estimates for 28 

Cow-hides 40 

Calcutta, or Nagore Hides 46 

Calf-skins 48 

Chemistry Defined 97 

Clinton Tannery 195 

260 INDEX. 


Copy of Patent 249 

Copy of Specification 253 

Depilation, Rationale of 15 

Domestic or Slaughtered Hides 44 

Deer-skins 54 

Epidermis 62 

Example of Tanning One Hundred Calf-skins, 121 
Example of Tanning Ox-hides for Patent 

Leather 133 

Example of Tanning Sole-leather 149 

France — Its Trade in Leather 19 

Fibrine, Nature of 62 

Goat-skins 51 

Gelatine, Mulder's View of 65 

Grained Leather 178 

Hair, Primitive Mode of Removing 15 

Hides Suitable for Tanning, 35 — Buenos Ayres, 
38— Brazilian, 39— Large Ox, 40— Bull, 41 
— From Diseased Carcass, 43 — Frauds in 
Sale of, 43 — Domestic Slaughtered, 44 — 
California, 44 — Spanish and African, 45 — 
Nagore, 46 — Yearlings, 45 — Horse, 51 — 
Mode of Salting, 55 — Washing and Soaking, 69 

INDEX. 261 


Ingredients Used in Tanning, 95 — Properties 
and Prices of 99 

Lime, Use of, in Tanning, 15 — Its Effects on 

Hides, 87 — Its Antiseptic Properties 88 

Liquor for Coloring and Graining 122 

Leather, Statistics of, 22 — Egyptian Workers 
of, 14 — Steps in Manufacture of, 14 — Cur- 
rying and Finishing of, 167 — Shaving, 168 
— Harness, 176 — Blacked Bridle, 177 — 
Russet Bridle, 178— Horse, 178— Wax, 178 
— Grained, 178— Patent, 179 — Texture and 
Quality of, 185 — Bloomed, 190 — Examina- 
tion of, 192 — Its Antiquity, 206 — Manufac- 
ture of 207 

Madagascar Hides 45 

Mechanics, True Position of . . . . 217 

Method, One Year's Work by Old, 28— By 
New, 29 — Advantages of New, 32 — Saving 
by New 32 

Nagore Ox 46 

Ox-hides for Patent Leather 133 

Patent Leather, Hides Used for 44 

262 INDEX. 


Sir Humphrey Davy and Others, Investiga- 
tions of 16 

Skins, Calf, 48 — Goat, 51 — Sheep, 52— Deer, 
54 — Composition of, 59 — African, 61 — Li- 
quor for Coloring and Graining 122 

Spanish Hides 45 

Salting Hides 55 

Splitting-machine 141 

Tannery, Clinton 195 

Tannin, Mulder's Opinion of, 65 — Affinity with 
Gluten 66 

Tanning, Antiquity of, 14 — How Effected, 17 
— Advantages of Patent Process of, 26 — In- 
gredients Used in, 95 — Composition for, 109 
— Composition No. 2 110 

Unhairing, Composition for, 81 — Drawbacks 
on the Old Plan, 87— Remarks on 195 

Work by Old Method, 28— By New 29 

Water, the Influence of its Quality in Tanning, 
75 — Rain the Purest 77 

Yearlings, Hides of Neat 45 

jun -o «w 



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